By Roger Hood, Surya Deva
Capital punishment has for a few years now been the topic of controversy and ethical debate. With the strengthening concentration world wide on human rights there was a flow to abolish this manner of punishment or in the slightest degree, uphold the minimal overseas legislation criteria aimed toward preserving the rights of these dealing with capital punishment.
This booklet identifies Asia as being really unaffected via those overseas pressures. The essays contained during this quantity offer an research of adjustments within the scope and alertness of the demise penalty in Asian international locations, and clarify in what methods they fail to fulfill those foreign legislation criteria.
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Extra resources for Confronting Capital Punishment in Asia: Human Rights, Politics and Public Opinion
Those states that continue to claim that the death penalty can be retained on grounds that it is a criminal justice issue, subject solely to national law, form an ever-shrinking minority of countries. On the contrary, the majority of nation states regard capital punishment as a fundamental human rights issue shaped by universal concepts of human dignity, in particular, the right to life and the prohibition on cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. International law dictates that pending the ultimate goal of abolition, capital punishment should always be subject to contemporary human rights norms.
As Zimring and Hawkins concluded in a Western context a quarter century ago:12 The symbolic character of death penalty legislation probably explains the strong support for the punishment after abolition, which diminishes until, after several years, opposition dominates public opinion. In this analysis, the support for capital punishment should begin to fade soon in Hong Kong but may persist for a decade or more in South Korea and the Philippines. If this is the pattern, it will simply repeat the history in the West—it is in that sense the opposite of an ‘Asian difference’.
A second important special emphasis for death penalty efforts in Asia should be to push for broad commitments by states across the full political spectrum of the region to prohibit the execution of political prisoners. The greatest attraction of state killing to authoritarian governments is as a weapon against political threats. Putting a political opponent in jail does not remove him as a threat to the regime. Killing him does. Substantial use of killing as a state political tool is part of the non-distant history of at least three East Asian states: the PRC, Taiwan, and North Korea, and several other modern nations in the region have problematic pasts (South Korea, Cambodia, and Vietnam).