Malaysia’s decision to abandon the death penalty is winning praise and adds further momentum to a growing global trend that human rights advocates hope will spell an end to state-sanctioned killing. But there’s still a long way to go, particularly across Asia.
From Pakistan and India to Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam, executions for a range of crimes — murder and treason to drug trafficking and blasphemy — remain on the statute books. Of the 53 counties that maintain the death penalty, about a quarter are in Asia, with China topping the world in the number of state-sanctioned killings. Figures remain a state secret, but rights groups say at least 2,000 people were executed by lethal injection or firing squad in 2017.