Worldwide abolitionists to focus on South-East Asia
It will be an excellent opportunity to emphasize the situation in South-East Asian countries and to link it with the next World Day, which will focus on the death penalty for drug offenses. It will also be the first ever general assembly of the World Coalition in Asia.
Congress coordinator Timothy Maillard has just come back from a mission to Malaysia and talks about the preparation of the Regional Congress.
Worldcoalition.org: What do you hope to achieve with this regional Congress?
We wish above all to highlight the work done by abolitionist civil society in Asia, particularly ADPAN (Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network), to support them and give them greater visibility. The Congress is also an opportunity to exchange and share best practices, including from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and possibly also on more secretive places such as Vietnam and Laos.
The partnership with ADPAN is going well and during the preparation of the Regional Congress, we put them in touch with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, SUHAKAM. We would like to promote an alliance of national human rights institutions in the region on the issue of the death penalty and an alliance of the bar associations of the region, through the Bar Council of Malaysia.
Finally, we wish to make the connection with parliamentarians, perhaps with an event at the Malaysian Parliament the day before opening the Congress if the Minister of Law agrees to convene it. We have also invited parliamentarians from the region in partnership with Parliamentarians for Global Action, hoping to establish a kind of regional parliamentary coalition.
Worldcoalition.org: Who do you expect will take part?
We are targeting 300 people, mostly from civil society: activists, NGOs, lawyers, parliamentarians, academics and journalists. We have invited the Minister of Law of Malaysia for the opening session, but there will be no other states represented. Regional representatives of intergovernmental organizations have already confirmed their participation, such as the Indonesian and Malaysian members of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who will present their recent report “Moving away from the death penalty – lessons in South East Asia”, and perhaps even representatives of the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime.
What would you like to say to abolitionists around the world to encourage them to participate in the event?
We want to strengthen discussions on specific issues in the region, but sharing best practices go beyond the regional framework. For example, the issue of drugs is central to other parts of the world, such as Mexico. The issues of corruption and public opinion, which will also be addressed at this Congress, are all relevant for abolitionists. Finally, the recent events in Indonesia show that the issue of foreigners sentenced to death is relevant worldwide.
You have just come back from Kuala Lumpur. What is the general feeling concerning the death penalty, given the recent executions in Indonesia?
Surprisingly, in Kuala Lumpur, nobody spoke about the executions, neither in the street nor in the media. I attended a workshop on the death penalty in South Asia organized by several NGOs, including ADPAN in collaboration with the ASEAN People’s Forum in Kuala Lumpur this week, and only Puri Kencana Putri, the representative of KontraS, spoke about the executions and the nationalist propaganda led by media in Indonesia. You know, in Malaysia, the death penalty remains quite secret. To get an idea of the number of death sentences and executions each year, civil society has to ask members of the parliament to raise the issue with the government because it is never made public. The Regional Conference will also help to raise the question of the death penalty in a country where it is rarely discussed.
You may find all the information on the Regional Congress here: http://congres.abolition.fr/
Participation in the event is free and open to all.