Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Leadership in Asia

We were pleased to see that the president of Mongolia has declared a moratorium on executions and called for abolition of the death penalty, citing several compelling reasons.

In October '08, MVFHR board member and Asia liaison Toshi Kazama joined members of Amnesty International in a meeting with the Mongolian United Nations delegate, and found him to be in favor of abolition, so even at that time Toshi reported being optimistic that Mongolia might head in this direction.

Here's an AFP story, "UN Hails Mongolia's Death Penalty Moratorium":

GENEVA — UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday hailed a move by Mongolia's president to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty, saying that it sets a "leadership example in Asia."

President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on Thursday told lawmakers that all death sentences -- carried out by gunshot -- would be commuted to 30-year prison terms, as he could not bring himself to sign any execution orders.

"I congratulate President Elbegdorj on this historic step which further strengthens human rights protection in Mongolia," Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

"Mongolia's move sets a leadership example in Asia," she said, urging it to abolish the death penalty.

"Unfortunately, the Asian region includes some of the world's most prolific executioners, but also some countries like Mongolia that have taken a principled stand on this fundamental issue," she added.

According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, Elbegdorj commuted the death sentences of at least three convicts in 2009.

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