Political Audiences and the Abolition of Capital Punishment in the Asia Pacific

In: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
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  • 1 School of Politics and International Relations, Australian National University

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This article investigates why some states in the Asia Pacific have retained capital punishment, while others have abolished it, either de facto or de jure. In contrast to existing theories, it is theorised that governments conduct cost-benefit calculations considering both domestic support and international pressure for abolition, then formulate their death penalty policy based on the lowest cost scenario. This theory is tested by applying controlled comparison and process tracing analysis to three cases: Cambodia, South Korea, and Indonesia. These case studies demonstrate that pressures from domestic and international political audiences are determinative in states’ decision-making processes regarding capital punishment.

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