UN rights office urges halt to drug-related death penalty in Southeast Asia News
UN rights office urges halt to drug-related death penalty in Southeast Asia

A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] on Tuesday voiced concern over the continued use of the death penalty [press release] in Southeast Asia as punishment for drug-related crimes. Drug-related crimes are punishable by death in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The OHCHR reports that eight more people convicted of drug trafficking in Vietnam have been sentenced to death. The OHCHR continues to urge authorities in Southeast Asia to abolish the death penalty for all crimes excepting murder and intentional killing in adherence to the principals of international human rights jurisprudence. Human rights experts criticize the use of capital punishment for all crimes that are less serious in nature. Despite growing national and international criticism, six people were executed in Indonesia [JURIST reports] for drug-related offenses last week. The OHCHR seeks to protect the eight people sentenced to death in Vietnam by continuing to urge the country to eliminate the death penalty for drug-related offenses.

The death penalty [JURIST news archive] has been a controversial issue worldwide, and a trend toward reinstatement has caused international concern. In December the Interior Ministry of Jordan announced [JURIST report] that 11 men were executed by hanging, which marks the first time Jordanian authorities delivered capital punishment in eight years. In October UN officials called on the government of Iraq [JURIST report] to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in response to a significant increase in executions since restoration of capital punishment in 2005. Earlier in October the OHCHR urged the international abolition of the death penalty [JURIST report]. In September two experts from the OHCHR encouraged [JURIST report] Saudi Arabia to implement an immediate moratorium on the death penalty following an increase in executions, with a significant number of the executions completed by beheading. In July Italian advocacy group Hands off Cain released a report [JURIST report] claiming the number of deaths by capital punishment increased despite a global trend away from the practice.