Available translations: English العربيّة

Ending the death penalty

Graphic: Inmate stands alone in a prison cell


National human rights institutions across the Asia Pacific have for many years strongly advocated for the abolition of the death penalty in their respective countries.

This work continues to be as important as ever.

A 2016 report by the APF's Advisory Council of Jurists (ACJ) found that despite progress towards abolition in other parts of the globe, the Asia Pacific region continues to disproportionally retain and implement the death penalty.

The report outlines a series of general recommendations for NHRIs in retentionist States to consider, including, among others, reviewing their State's criminal code, monitoring trials in all capital cases, and monitoring pre-trial and post-trial detention.

The report also includes specific recommendations for NHRIs in those countries that retain the death penalty.


The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading – and it has no impact on deterring crime. Consistent and strategic advocacy by NHRIs presents a real opportunity to reduce the use of the death penalty in the region.

Asia Pacific Forum Logo KIEREN FITZPATRICK, DIRECTOR, APF SECRETARIAT

Inmate stands alone in a prison courtyard

APF members have undertaken advocacy within their respective governments, collaborated at forums such as the World Congress Against the Death Penalty and developed a regional strategy to contribute to the 2016 UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium against the death penalty.


In 2017, the APF provided financial support to three member institutions – the NHRIs of Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines – as part of our Abolition of the Death Penalty Project.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has actively campaigned to end the death penalty, submitting a comprehensive position paper to the government after hosting a National Conference on the Death Penalty in June 2018.

SUHAKAM also held consultations with government agencies, civil society organisations and religious leaders to share perspectives and build support to end the death penalty.

This advocacy, combined with growing public opposition to the death penalty, has contributed to the government's commitment to table a Bill to abolish the death penalty in Malaysia.

The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission hosted a two-day Workshop on the Moratorium of the Death Penalty in October 2017.

Bringing together parliamentarians, senior government officials, civil society representatives and journalists, the workshop explored the issue in detail and prepared a statement and recommendations for consideration by the Government.

Since Myanmar is considered abolitionist in practice, the workshop concluded by recommending that the government consider a moratorium on the application of the death penalty, pending its eventual abolition.

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines has implemented a comprehensive suite of activities to gather community support and advocate against the proposed reintroduction of the death penalty in the country.

These activities include a national survey – the first of its kind in the Philippines – on attitudes towards the death penalty, as well as community-based consultations, a social media campaign, legal research, partnerships with universities and advocacy with parliamentarians.


Image credits

  1. Inmate stands alone in a prison cell - APF/Michael Power
  2. Inmate stands alone in a prison courtyard - APF/Michael Power