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APF to update landmark study on the death penalty

Graphic: Man sits in cell

The new study will support APF members in advocacating with government and promote opportunities for collaboration at the bilateral and regional level


In the past year, a number of national human rights institutions across the Asia Pacific have strongly advocated for the abolition of the death penalty in their countries.

The continued use of the death penalty in different parts of the region was also discussed at the APF's 20th Annual Meeting and Conference, held in Mongolia in August 2015.

While a number of countries still employ the death penalty, APF members noted that there is an increasing trend for countries to institute:

  • A de facto moratorium on the death penalty, or
  • A reduction in the number of offences for which the death penalty could apply, and/or
  • The abolition of the death penalty.

In 1999, the APF's Advisory Council of Jurists (ACJ) undertook a detailed review of the death penalty. Its report urged States to move towards de facto, and eventual de jure, abolition of the death penalty.

The ACJ report highlighted a number of powerful arguments against States continued to impose the death penalty, including:

  • The potential for error in the processes leading to conviction
  • A lack of any proven deterrent effect
  • Its disproportionate application on those from lower socio-economic groups.

In 2016, the APF will review and update the ACJ's original reference on the death penalty in order to document current practice in the region.

Among other things, the review will look at which States retain the death penalty and for what crimes, as well as where exemptions or a moratorium exist and for what reasons these were implemented.

Once completed, the review will support APF members to advocate on the issue with their national governments, as well as provide opportunities for collaboration between APF members at a bilateral and a regional level.

The review will also assist the APF to develop a coordinated regional response to the issue and guide its strategy for engaging on the 2016 United Nations General Assembly resolution on a moratorium against the death penalty.

Date: 17 February 2016


Image credits

  1. Man sits in cell - APF/Michael Power