Update: On October 10, 2018, the Malaysian government announced that the country will abolish the death penalty for all crimes. Around 1,200 people are on death row in Malaysia, and many of them were sentenced for drug offenses, a sentence highlighted in the 13th Annual World Day Against the Death Penalty in 2015. The country had already placed a moratorium on executions, and the new announcement may have been prompted by public backlash over the death sentence that Muhammad Lukman Mohamad received in August of this year for selling medicinal cannabis extracts to cancer patients.
"The conditions of detention of the people sentenced to death might differ from one country to another, but affect us all. From solitary confinement in the United States, to the overcrowded prisons in several countries in Africa and Asia, the living conditions for the people sentenced tend to dehumanize and take away the dignity of individuals. Very often, death row prisoners become human beings on which the society does not invest anymore, as if, even before being executed, they were no longer alive, they were no longer considered as 'human beings.' In addition, death row prisoners have very little contact with their family and lawyers, as the access to death row is often very limited. Therefore, the conditions of detention affect not only the person sentenced to death but also the families, relatives and legal team."
World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
October 10 is World Day Against the Death Penalty.
For the past 16 years, organizations opposed to executions have commemorated October 10 as World Day Against the Death Penalty, each year focusing on a particular theme.
This year, World Day is shining a spotlight on the living conditions of people on death rows.
The World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty chose to focus on the living conditions of those incarcerated under sentences of death, because regardless of whether or when they will be executed, incarceration on death row inflicts considerable physical and psychological suffering, often amounting to torture.
You can learn more about the living conditions of those on death row, and previous World Day themes, by visiting the World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
There you will find a number of interesting and helpful links. Here are just a few:
- Facts and figures about the death penalty around the world
- A detailed fact sheet about the living conditions of people on death row
- A mobilization kit: ways to action action right now
Over the last week, Death Penalty Focus has been working with allies and local partners to raise awareness about the living condition of people on death row and the many other reasons to end the death penalty. On October 6, DPF Board Member and former FBI Agent Tom Parker spoke at an event in support of Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row in California for more than 30 years for a crime he did not commit. On October 10, DPF staff joined Amnesty International USA for a digital teach-in event for Amnesty Youth Chapters around California. We were joined by exoneree Juan Melendez and DPF Board Member Bethany Webb, who is also a member of California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. On October 11, DPF’s Orange County Chapter held a screening of the film There Will Be No Stay, and DPF Executive Director Magdaleno Rose Avila spoke to a community group in Seal Beach California.