State-sanctioned killings in the form of the death penalty are widely recognised and acknowledged by a vast majority of governments worldwide as one of the most fundamental affronts to human dignity and violations of a person’s right to life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is most regrettable that on this
8th World Day Against the Death Penalty, Singapore remains one of the most steadfast leading proponents of the application of the death penalty.
Even so, winds of change are stirring in the region with Malaysia calling for a domestic reconsideration of the death penalty by its de facto Law Minister just one month ago. Think Centre was heartened and applauds such a call. However, we urge that such a rethink not stop at the individual country level only.
Two Asean member countries, Cambodia (1989) and Philippines (2006), have already abolished the death penalty for all crimes. The suspension of the mandatory death penalty can reduce the number of prisoners who are sentenced to death in Asean member countries.
Similarly, with more civil society groups in Asean being more active and strongly advocating the abolishment of capital punishment, Think Centre proposes that it is timely for all interested civil society organisations and people’s movement groups to build on this momentum and consider the establishment of a Coalition Against the Death Penalty in Asean. The proposed Coalition should focus on the promotion of a universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with the eventual goal of total abolition in all Asean countries by 2015.
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Think Centre commits itself to take the lead in proposing to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to consider in its plan of action for the coming years the following:
1. Strongly urge that the AICHR issue a formal request for the suspension of executions in Singapore especially in light of the current judicial quagmire in the clemency process for the young Malaysian Yong Vui Kong, who is on death row.
2. Proposes that the AICHR establish as a priority issue the study and consideration of the abolition of the death penalty as a recommendation to all Asean member states.
Think Centre for an integrated and humane Asean in 2015!