CCL whole web
powered by Google ©
Home About CCL Issues News Events Publications Complaints UNSWCCL
Death Penalty

» Welcome
» News
» CCL Policy
» Australia's Policy
» 2nd Optional Protocol
» What You Can Do
» Aussies on Death Row
» Resources
» DP in Australia
» DP in Asia-Pacific
» DP internationally
» Links


» more issues...

The Death Penalty in the Asia-Pacific Region

On this page you can find out about the death penalty in the countries of the Asia Pacific region. The Asia/Pacific region is one of the worst retentionist regions in the world: only Australia, New Zealand and East Timor have ratified the Second Optional Protocol abolishing the death penalty.

Information about each country includes:

  • whether the country has abolished or retains the death penalty
  • whether it has signed the ICCPR (and is therefore bound by minimum international standards); and
  • whether it has signed the Second Optional Protocol abolishing the death penalty
  • a link to the SBS World Guide information about that country.

Click on one of the countries below to find out more.

The highlighted countries still retain the death penalty. Those highlighted in yellow are "de facto abolitionist" countries, i.e. an execution has not occurred in these countries for the last 10 years but the death penalty has not been officially abolished.

American Samoa Cook Islands Japan New Caledonia Philippines Timor-Leste
Australia Fiji Kiribati New Zealand Samoa Tokelau
Bangladesh French Polynesia Laos Niue Singapore Tonga
Brunei Darussalam Guam Malaysia North Korea Solomon Islands Tuvalu
Burma (Myanmar) Hawaii (USA) Marshall Islands Northern Marianas South Korea Vanuatu
Cambodia Hong Kong Micronesia Palau Taiwan Vietnam
China Indonesia Nauru Papua New Guinea Thailand  

American Samoa (USA)

death penalty:
  • de facto abolitionist (last execution over 50 years ago)
  • retained for first degree murder only: American Samoa Code §46.3513
ICCPR?
US territory
2nd Optional Protocol?
US territory
other info:
  • death penalty is not mandatory: American Samoa Code §46.3514
  • the High Court must review all death sentence cases: American Samoa Code §46.3515

source: American Samoa Bar Association

  • there has been recent talk about adopting lethal injection as the method of execution, though nobody has yet been sentenced to death

source: 'American Samoa: Senate Seeks Submissions on Lethal Injections', Pacific Magazine (19 September 2003).


Australia

death penalty:
ICCPR?
ratified 13 Aug 1980
2nd Optional Protocol?
ratified on 2 October 1990
other info:
last execution in 1967

Bangladesh

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
ratified 6 September 2000
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Brunei Darussalam

death penalty:
de facto abolitionist (last execution in 1957)
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
 

Burma (Myanmar)

death penalty:
de facto abolitionist (last execution in 1989)
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Cambodia

death penalty:
abolished in 1989
ICCPR?
ratified on 26 May 1992
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

China

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
signed, but not ratified
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
China executes more people than any other country: between 1994 and 2003, China executed over 19,025 people.

Cook Islands

death penalty:
  • death sentence is MANDATORY
  • retained for treason only: Crimes Act s 76
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
a right of appeal lies to the Court of Appeal: Constitution s 64(2)(b)

Fiji

death penalty:

de facto abolitionist (last execution in 1964)

ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • death penalty only for crimes against the Military Code: Republic of Fiji Military Forces Act.
  • death penalty abolished for all civilian crimes in 2002 by the Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2002
  • the Fiji Parliament voted to abolish capital punishment after George Speight's 2002 death sentence for treason was commuted to life imprisonment.

French Polynesia

death penalty:
abolished
ICCPR?
French territory
2nd Optional Protocol?
French territory
other info:

Guam

death penalty:
abolished
ICCPR?
US territory
2nd Optional Protocol?
US territory
other info:

Hawaii (USA)

death penalty:
abolished
ICCPR?
ratified on 8 June 1992 (by USA)
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Hong Kong (China)

death penalty:
abolished in 1993
ICCPR?
Province of PRC
2nd Optional Protocol?
Province of PRC
other info:
  • Article 2(2) of the Bill of Rights preserves the possibility of the death penalty (juveniles & pregnant women cannot be executed)

Indonesia

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
Indonesia currently executes by firing squad, but is considering switching to lethal injection.

Japan

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
ratified 29 June 1979
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • maintains the death penalty for ordinary offences. This is is a violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR, which states that the death penalty should only be for the 'most serious crimes'.
  • between 1994 and 2003, Japan executed 37 people
  • there are reports that some people executed in Japan have been suffering from mental illnesses (UN Doc E/2005/3, [85]).

Kiribati

death penalty:
abolished in 1979
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Laos

death penalty:
de facto abolitionist (last execution in 1989)
ICCPR?
signed, but not ratified
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Malaysia

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Marshall Islands

death penalty:
abolished in 1986
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Micronesia

death penalty:
abolished in 1986
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Nauru

death penalty:
de facto abolitionist
retained for:
  • treason: Criminal Code 1899 s 37
  • piracy: Criminal Code 1899 s 81
  • murder: Criminal Code 1899 s 305
ICCPR?
signed, but not ratified
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • there have been no executions since independence in 1968. The date of the last execution prior to independence is not available.
    source: UN General-Secretary, "Question of the Death Penalty" (23 January 2004), UN Doc E/CN.4/2004/86.
  • execution is stayed for pregnant women: Criminal Code 1899 s 653
  • note: appeal in criminal cases lies to the High Court of Australia: Appeals Act 1972 s 37(1).

New Caledonia

death penalty:
abolished
ICCPR?
French territory
2nd Optional Protocol?
French territory
other info:

New Zealand

death penalty:
abolished in 1989
ICCPR?
ratified on 28 December 1978
2nd Optional Protocol?
ratified on 22 February 1990
other info:

Niue

death penalty:

abolished

ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
self-governing nation in free association with New Zealand

North Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea)

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
ratified on 14 September 1981
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • practices public executions
  • not confined to the 'most serious crimes' and therefore in violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR
source: UN Human Rights Committee, Report (2001) UN Doc A/56/40 (Vol.1), [86(13)]

Northern Marianas

death penalty:
abolished
ICCPR?
US territory
2nd Optional Protocol?
US territory
other info:
according to the Commonwealth Law Revision Commission (Saipan), the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has never had the death penalty on its books.

Palau

death penalty:
abolished in 1994
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Papua New Guinea

death penalty:

de facto abolitionist (last execution in 1950)

death penalty for:

ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Philippines

death penalty:
yes
  • mandatory death penalty for murder & serious rape cases
ICCPR?
ratified 23 October 1986
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • resumed executions in 1999
  • 6 people were executed in 1999; 1 person was executed in 2000
  • a moratorium was placed on executions in March 2000
  • On 1 January 2004, President Arroyo announced that she would lift the moratorium - that has not yet happened & the moratorium remains in place
  • there are over 1,000 people on death row

source: UN General-Secretary, Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty (9 March 2005), UN Doc E/2005/3, [28].

  • UN Human Rights Committee has, on three occasions, found the Philippines in breach of Article 6 of the ICCPR because it has a mandatory death sentence for some offences:

Samoa

death penalty:
abolished 21 January 2004 by the Crimes (Abolition of Death Penalty) Amendment Act 2004
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
source: Fili Sagapolutele, 'SAMOA: Government Ends Death Penalty', Pacific Magazine (21 January 2004).

Singapore

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Solomon Islands

death penalty:
abolished in 1978
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

South Korea (Republic of Korea)

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
ratified on 10 April 1990
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • South Korea is moving towards abolition - there have been no executions since 1998
  • between 1994 & 1998, Korea executed 57 people

Taiwan

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Thailand

death penalty:
yes
ICCPR?
ratified 29 October 1996
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • Thailand entered a reservation to Article 6 of the ICCPR, stating that it is theoretically possible for a 17 year old to be executed under the Penal Code, but that a court has the discretion not to impose such a sentence.
  • between 1994 and 2003, Thailand executed 48 people

Timor-Leste (East Timor)

death penalty:
abolished in 1999
ICCPR?
ratified on 18 September 2003
2nd Optional Protocol?
ratified on 18 September 2003
other info:

Tokelau

death penalty:
abolished
ICCPR?
New Zealand territory
2nd Optional Protocol?
New Zealand territory
other info:

Tonga

death penalty:
de facto abolitionist (last execution in 1982)
retained for:
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Tuvalu

death penalty:
abolished in 1978
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Vanuatu

death penalty:
abolished in 1980
ICCPR?
no
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:

Vietnam

death penalty:

yes. Retained for many offences, including:

ICCPR?
ratified 24 September 1982
2nd Optional Protocol?
no
other info:
  • juveniles (under 18) and pregnant and nursing women are not executed: Penal Code s 35
  • read about Australians on death row in Vietnam
  • between 1994 and 2003, Vietnam executed at least 273 people
  • the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has expressed concern about the conditions on death row in Vietnam: UN Doc E/CN.4/2002/74/Add.2 [630].
  • see also: Amnesty International's 2003 report on Vietnam
  • Vietnam currently executes by firing squad, but is considering switching to lethal injection.
  • in April 2000, Vietnam executed Canadian, Nguyen Thi Hiep, for drug trafficking.

Sources

The information on this page has been collected from the following sources:


Back to top contact us
Please read our Privacy Statement © 2004-2005 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Inc. Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005