Abolish the Death Penalty? The Asian way!


16 June 2008 News Report

The Asian NGO Summit to Abolish the Death Penalty, held from June 13 to June 15, has successfully concluded and has achieved consensus on a number of issues.  The Asian NGO Summit was organized by the Anti-Death Penalty Asian Network (ADPAN) and included invitees from Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Britain, France and the United States.  In total, 25 regional or international NGO representatives participated.  At the summit, the main issues included inter-regional cooperation over abolishing the death penalty, the upcoming Beijing Olympics, the impact of Islamic Law on the death penalty and UN Resolution 62/149, which was adopted on 18 December 2007.

TAEDP Executive Director Lin Hsin-Yi participated in the summit and reported on Taiwan’s death penalty abolition developments.  At the Summit, members greatly appreciated Taiwan NGO’s efforts to promote abolition and Taiwan record of not executing a single prisoner in over two and a half years.  Of course, they also expressed their hopes that Taiwan’s government would provide a clearer declaration against the death penalty, which would greatly encourage other Asian countries with anti-death penalty movements.

At the meeting, parties agreed on a major resolution to exchange experiences on protecting Asian victims.  Lin Hsin-Yi stated, “Whether we agree on retaining or abolishing the death penalty, the protection of victims is an extremely important matter.  But, in the international movement to abolish the death penalty, the protection of victims has not received suitable attention.  According to experiences in Japan, America and Taiwan, if organizations are able to assist and express concern for victims’ rights, as well as listen to victims’ voices, this can not only greatly help victims, but also can greatly impact promoting the anti-death penalty campaign.”

Therefore, Toshi Kazama, a Board Member with the Japanese victims group OCEAN; Kim Duk-jin, Secretary-General of the Catholic Human Rights Committee; and Lin Hsin-Yi, Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty came together to support a cooperative project entitled “Victims, We Care! A Look at Asian Victims,” which received the full support of attendees.  Representatives from India and Pakistan expressed that in their countries some of the victims are against the death penalty, since these victims realized that the death penalty is unable to solve their problems.  These victims realize that they need real help to overcome their difficulties.  Many organizations were willing to participate in the Asian program, and the groups also hope to seek the EU’s support and assistance.

In addition, last year the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 62/149, a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.  The resolution called on the United Nations Secretary-General to address how the resolution’s implementation in an annual report.  As a result of the resolution, the participating NGOs have agreed to submit a domestic report to be compiled in an ADPAN report on Asia that can be submitted to the United Nations.  Although Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, we hope that Taiwan can jointly submit the report with other Asian countries in order to share our experiences.

Lin Hsin-Yi said that, following the NGO summit, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) held an international press conference on June 16.  The conference focused on improvements in human rights issues and capital punishments, and organizations offered recommendations and criticisms. In contrast with China’s serious death penalty implementation issues, Taiwanese policies have already moved the country toward abolishing capital punishment and heightened international expectations.  Therefore, important experts and representatives from three international organizations visited Taiwan between June 17 and June 18 to express the international community’s great hope that Taiwan will once soon end its death penalty system.

The three representatives included the following experts:  Professor Thomas H. “Speedy” Rice, who is not only an Executive Member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), but also a Professor of Legal Practicums at Washington & Lee School of Law’s Transnational Law Institute; Maiko Tagusari, a representative of the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) and Secretary-General of Japan’s Center for Prisoners Rights; and Mark Allison, a Senior China Researcher with Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Regional Office and a representative of Amnesty International.  We are confident that their experiences and recommendations will assist Taiwan in advancing human rights.


中文版: 廢除死刑?亞洲觀點!