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NHRIs advocate against the death penalty

Graphic: Man sits in a cell, Jordan

The APF is supporting the NHRIs of Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines in their efforts to lobby for an end to the death penalty.

The national human rights institutions of Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines will shortly launch a series of programs to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty in their respective countries.

The APF will provide financial and technical support to the three projects, which build on the existing work of the NHRIs and form part of our Abolition of the Death Penalty Project.

We will also draw on the findings from these projects to promote good practice in advocating for abolition of the death penalty among our members and with NHRIs in other regions.


The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading – and it has no impact on deterring crime. We believe that 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

About the projects

The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission will advocate for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step on the road to its eventual abolition.

In September 2017, the Commission will host a two-day national seminar involving parliamentarians, judges, government officials, academics and civil society to discuss the issue and prepare a statement and recommendations for consideration by the Government.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) will undertake a range of activities – including roundtable meetings with stakeholders and a national seminar – that will result in a comprehensive position paper to be submitted to the Parliament.

The position paper will consider a number of issues, with a particular focus on:

  • The removal of the death penalty for all crimes, especially those that would not be considered to meet the threshold of 'most serious crimes'
  • The removal of the mandatory imposition of the death penalty for any crime
  • Limiting the application of the death penalty for the elderly and for mothers with dependent children.

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

These activities will include a national survey, community-based consultations, a social media campaign, legal research, partnerships with universities and the preparation of briefing and guidance notes for 'human rights champions' in the Parliament.

Date: 15 August 2017


Man sits in a cell, Maldives

An APF report in 2016 described patchy progress towards abolition of the death penalty across the Asia Pacific, despite positive developments in other parts of the world.

The report includes general recommendations for NHRIs to consider, including reviewing their State's criminal code, monitoring trials in all capital cases and monitoring pre-trial and post-trial detention.


Image credits

  1. Man sits in a cell, Jordan - APF/Michael Power
  2. Man sits in a cell, Maldives - APF/Michael Power