We want to reduce the number of executions in SE Asia - UN high-level human rights representative

BANGKOK (28 February 2018) - Half of the 32 countries and territories in the world where drug crime can result in the death penalty are in South East Asia, today said UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour*.

Why does the region have such harsh sentencing policies for drug offences but a continued increase in drug-related offences, Gilmour asked a group of prominent legal specialists, academics and human rights defenders from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam and Hong Kong, as well as UN human rights and drug experts.

"We want to do a better job at reaching retentionist states in the region, respectfully discussing with them death penalty practices in light of their obligations under international human rights law," he said.

"We would like to achieve full abolition of the death penalty, we take that as a given, but the immediate end now is to find ways to engage with governments to reduce the number of executions, and to reduce the intense suffering for those convicted and their families when it comes to death row," the UN Assistant Secretary-General said.

Gilmour asked for recommendations on how to strengthen the UN's work in and with retentionist states "to ensure that public debate on drug offences and the death penalty can be meaningfully informed by the actual evidence."

During the discussion, the experts examined drug trafficking trends, national policies, public perceptions, and human rights challenges in the fight against drug trafficking and drug-related crime in South East Asia.


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Andrew Gilmour (United Kingdom) assumed his functions as UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on 1 October 2016, heading OHCHR's Office in New York. In October 2016, Mr. Gilmour was designated by the UN Secretary - General as senior official to lead the efforts within the UN system to address intimidation and reprisals against those cooperating with the UN on human rights.

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This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org

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  • The Regional Office for South-East Asia in Bangkok represents the High Commissioner for Human Rights within South East Asia. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations and heads the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which spearheads the United Nations' human rights efforts.