Should the death penalty be reintroduced in Australia

Ambivalent handling of the death penalty

According to official figures, 32 death sentences were carried out in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China, in 2014, five fewer than in 2013. The number of new death sentences fell by 335 over the same period, the organization said in its latest report on the Death penalty worldwide.

Amnesty International sees developments in the region as part of a global trend away from the death penalty. Worldwide, the number of officially executed death sentences fell by more than 20 percent compared to the previous year.

Rejhaneh Jabbari, among others, was executed in Iran. She claimed to have killed her rapist in self-defense.

"These numbers speak for themselves - the death penalty is a relic of the past," says Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty: "The few countries that still use the death penalty should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they still have the law want to hurt their lives, or whether they would rather join the overwhelming majority of states that have renounced this cruel and inhuman form of punishment.

Most officially confirmed executions, according to the Amnesty report, took place in Iran (officially 289), Saudi Arabia (at least 90), Iraq (at least 61) and the United States (35). The organization did not have any data from China or North Korea. Amnesty assumes, however, that China alone has more people executed than all other countries in the world combined. The American-Chinese human rights organization Dui Hua speaks of an estimated 2,400 executed death sentences in the past year alone.

Against the trend

At the same time, at least 695 new death sentences were imposed in a total of 17 countries in Asia, mainly in Pakistan (231), Bangladesh (142), Vietnam (72) and India (64). "Some people here were punished with death for crimes other than murder, such as robbery, drug offenses or economic crimes," said Shetty. In addition, some states have used unspecified "political crimes" to sentence actual or suspected dissidents to death.

In the 61-page report, Amnesty International also denounced "unfair trials" in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, North Korea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Both Beijing and Pyongyang have admitted that they obtained "confessions" through torture or other physical abuse.

Other cases where the courts have imposed the death penalty are also listed: violating the blasphemy law (Pakistan), white-collar crime (China, North Korea and Vietnam), rape resulting in death (Afghanistan), and multiple rape (India).

Death penalty against terrorism

Pakistan is increasing the death penalty against Islamist extremists

The report also suggests that governments are making greater use of the death penalty to combat crime or terrorist threats. A trend that human rights activists consider disturbing. Amnesty Secretary General Shetty says the authorities in China are using the death penalty as part of the "strike hard" campaign in the Xingjiang Autonomous Region. There are repeated ethnic unrest in the predominantly Uyghur region.

"In 2014 at least 21 people were executed in connection with various separatist attacks," said the human rights expert. The use of the death penalty is also increasing in other countries: Singapore, Pakistan and Indonesia - where the death penalty has only recently been used again. And the Pakistani government only reintroduced the death penalty a few weeks ago in response to the devastating terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar at the end of last year. This step puts the lives of thousands of prisoners in danger.

It is estimated that there are currently more than 8,000 inmates on death row in South Asia. In Pakistan alone, more than 60 prisoners have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated.

Crackdown on drug trafficking

In Indonesia, death sentences were passed primarily for drug-related offenses

Indonesian President Joko Widodo defended the introduction of the death penalty for drug offenses. Anyone convicted of drug smuggling cannot expect a pardon due to the country's serious drug problem. Six men have already been executed by firing squads this year.

The tough stance of the president has also affected Indonesia's relationship with other countries: Australia and Brazil, for example. Citizens from both countries are part of a group of death row inmates soon to be executed on the prison island of Nusakambangan. In China, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, prisoners were also executed for drug offenses last year.

Amnesty International also recorded positive developments in the region. Although the governments of Papua New Guinea and Kiribati have taken steps to reintroduce or reintroduce the death penalty, the Pacific remains the only region in the world where there is almost no death penalty.