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Ending the death penalty in Asia: rights groups attend regional seminar

Graphic: Fia Hamid-Walker, Hasnal Rezua Merican Bin Habib Merican, Karen Gomez-Dumpit, Theresia Sri Endras

The APF participated in a regional seminar aimed at fostering meaningful discussions and sharing strategies among rights groups in Asia.

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The APF recently participated in the Asia Regional Seminar "Abolition of the Death Penalty in Asia: What are the strategies at hand?" held in Taiwan from 26-27 May 2023. The seminar aimed to foster meaningful discussions and share strategies among anti-death penalty groups in Asia.

Despite the fact that more than two-thirds of countries worldwide have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, Asia continues to have the highest number of executions globally.

Last year witnessed a concerning surge in executions across Asia. Iran alone reported over 500 executions, while Myanmar ended its 34-year moratorium and resumed carrying out executions. Singapore executed 11 death row prisoners, including an individual with a mental disability, in violation of international law.

The seminar, organised by Together Against the Death Penalty, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, brought together more than 80 participants from 14 countries in Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

Commissioner Dato' Hasnal Rezua Merican Bin Habib Merican from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Karen Gomez-Dumpit, former Chair of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and Fia Hamid-Walker, APF Human Rights Defenders Project Manager, were among the participants in a session titled "Collaboration between Stakeholders and National Human Rights Institutions Towards Abolition."

The session focused on exploring ways in which National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can collaborate and cooperate with civil society to abolish the death penalty and prevent executions. Commissioners Theresia Sri Endras lswarini from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and Kao Yung-Cheng from the National Human Rights Commission of Taiwan also contributed to the session.

The seminar also included workshops dedicated to engaging the media in supporting efforts to abolish the death penalty and addressing challenges related to access to counsel and legal representation in death penalty cases.

APF members have long been engaged in advocacy within their respective governments and have collaborated at international forums, including the World Congress Against the Death Penalty. They also developed a regional strategy to contribute to the 2016 UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.

By continuing to share expertise and work collaboratively, our members aim to make significant efforts towards ending capital punishment and upholding human rights.

Date: 30 June 2023

Image credits

  1. Fia Hamid-Walker, Hasnal Rezua Merican Bin Habib Merican, Karen Gomez-Dumpit, Theresia Sri Endras - APF