Death Penalty Politics: The Fragility of Abolition in Asia and the Pacific


This special collection of articles on the death penalty and the politics of abolition in Asia and the Pacific is published to coincide with the centenary of one of the world’s earliest statutory abolitions, in the Australian state of Queensland, in August 1922. Scholars of the death penalty, its practice and its abolition were invited to participate in a symposium in May 2021 hosted in Melbourne by Eleos Justice at Monash University and the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research at Griffith University. They were joined by lawyers and abolition advocates, including some who had worked on death row cases.

This collection seeks to bring perspectives from a variety of disciplines and methods—historical, legal, sociological, comparative—to bear on the questions of retention and abolition in a variety of jurisdictions and time periods. If there is one conclusion to these collective studies, it is the fragility of abolition. Abolition may now be widely embraced as a norm of international human rights law, but its establishment as a comprehensive and irrevocable fact remains elusive. The task of a research collection such as this is to understand why that may be as a guide to what might be pursued in the future regarding abolition.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-09-01
Section:Guest Editorial: Death Penalty Politics
Fetching Scopus statistics
Fetching Web of Science statistics
How to Cite
Finnane, M. ., Sato, M. . and Trevaskes , S. . (2022) “Death Penalty Politics: The Fragility of Abolition in Asia and the Pacific”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(3). doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2470.

Author Biographies

Griffith University

Mark Finnane FAHA FASSA is Distinguished Professor of History at Griffith University. He has published widely on the history of criminal justice, policing, punishment, and criminal law in both Australia and Ireland. His books include Police and government: (1994), Punishment in Australian Society(1997), When Police unionise (2002), JV Barry: a life (2007) and (co-authored with Heather Douglas) Indigenous Crime and Settler Law: White Sovereignty after Empire (2012). With the support of an ARC Laureate Fellowship (2013-18) he established and continues to direct the Prosecution Project (, an historical database of criminal prosecutions in Australia, hosted at the Griffith Criminology Institute.

Monash University

Mai Sato is an Associate Professor and Director of Eleos Justice at the Faculty of Law, Monash University. Mai is the author of The Death Penalty in Japan: Will the Public Tolerate Abolition? (Springer, 2014) and co-author of Reasons to Doubt: Wrongful Convictions and the Criminal Cases Reviews Commission (OUP 2019, with Carolyn Hoyle). Mai co-runs an NGO CrimeInfo (with Maiko Tagusari) which promotes the abolition of the death penalty in Japan.

Griffith University

Susan Trevaskes is Professor of Chinese Studies at Griffith University. Her research has resulted in over 70 publications including the first books in English on criminal courts contemporary China (2007), policing serious crime in China (2010), and death penalty reform in China (2012). She has published papers on Chinese law and justice in a number of journals including The China JournalThe British Journal of CriminologyThe China Quarterly, and Modern China. Her co-edited volumes include The Politics of Law and Stability in China(2014), Legal Reforms and Deprivation of Liberty in Contemporary China (2016), Justice: the China Experience (2017) and The Party and the Law in China: Ideology and Organisation (2020).