Vietnam’s ‘conveyor belt of executions’ condemned by human rights watchdog

By Asian Correspondent Staff | 11th April 2017 | @ascorrespondent

VIETNAM has secretly been the world’s third largest executioner over the last three years, executing 429 people between August 2013 and June 2016, Amnesty International has discovered.

Only China and Iran executed more people during that time, Amnesty’s 2016 global review of the death penalty revealed on Tuesday.

“The magnitude of executions in Vietnam in recent years is truly shocking. This conveyor belt of executions completely overshadows recent death penalty reforms,” Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty said.

The secrecy behind the executions in the Southeast Asian tourist hotspot has the rights group worried.

“You have to wonder how many more people had faced the death penalty without the world knowing,” Shetty said.Data on the use of the death penalty in Vietnam is classified as a state secret, so numbers were unclear until the Public Security Ministry released a report that shed new light on it.

The data showed executions had been carried out at a higher rate than previously known and “provided an insight into the magnitude and true extent of the use of the death penalty.”

Amnesty’s Individuals at Risk programme coordinator Rose Kolak told news.com.au the excuse of state secrets to hide figures on executions was unjust and allowed the government to kill with impunity.

    The #deathpenalty is final. An execution can never be reversed. https://t.co/u2ApW9OUee pic.twitter.com/WROufMKeT8
    — AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) April 9, 2017

“The state secret excuse is a way of not allowing anyone to know what’s happening,” she said. “It’s deliberate cold-blooded killing by a government in its name. It’s not justice but vengeance.”

“Governments are choosing to kill and execute, that’s the bottom line,” she said.

The figures raise as many questions as they answer, with no context provided as to why and when the people were executed or the details of their cases’ legal proceedings.

Malaysia was also highlighted by the rights group as being secretive about the extent to which capital punishment is implemented in the country.

“Secrecy is a huge concern, not only Vietnam but also Malaysia,” Amnesty International deputy director of global issues James Lynch told AAP (via news.com.au).

“When new information comes to light, it is disturbing. The number of executions was higher again than people had expected. The size of death row was higher than expected.”

Following parliamentary pressure in 2016, Malaysian authorities were forced to release figures revealing 1,042 people are currently under sentence of death for murder, drug trafficking, firearms trafficking or kidnapping.

    #EU sharply criticizes #Malaysia, demands end to death penalty, condemns execution of the #Batumalai brothers @hrw https://t.co/9d19tua55w pic.twitter.com/x4ZlXUZgN1
    — Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) March 15, 2017

Despite the worrying trends in Vietnam and Malaysia, executions fell across Asia Pacific in 2016, predominantly because Pakistan had decreased its executions by 73 percent.

In the region, at least 130 executions were carried out in 2016 in 11 countries, down from at least 367 executions in 12 countries in 2015, the report detailed.

The data for Asia Pacific does not, however, include figures for China, which remains the world’s top executioner.