Faculty of law blogs / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

Mapping foreign nationals on death row in Asia and the Middle East: A new database for researchers


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2 Minutes

Screenshot from the DPRU 'Foreign Nationals on Death Row' website

In recognition of the extreme plight of foreign nationals on death row and their particular vulnerabilities, the Death Penalty Research Unit (DPRU) has been partnering with a network of civil society organisations (CSOs) to map foreign nationals at risk of the death penalty across Asia and the Middle East.

Across these regions, foreign nationals tend to be more vulnerable and at times disproportionately at risk of death sentencing and execution, particularly poorer migrant workers. Our civil society partners have documented the death sentences and executions of foreign nationals across Asia and the Middle East, and the particular problems they face in accessing justice, such as the lack of legal or consular representation, translation services and local support networks as well as discrimination, torture or mistreatment within some of the justice systems in the region.

While certain countries of origin have made attempts to safeguard the rights of their nationals or signed moratoriums to stop sending migrant workers to certain states, thousands still travel there each year as they their families are reliant on the remittances they send back home.

Screenshot of Asia and Middle East overview on Foreign Nationals on Death Row database

The DPRU therefore set out to create a tool to help map instances of foreign nationals sentenced to death across Asia and the Middle East. We have worked with HURIDOCS, a human rights software developer, to build an interactive database mapping 1,242 cases of foreign nationals on death row, which records socio-demographic, jurisdictional and offence-related data, as well as including data visualisations and maps which illuminate the numbers and trends that emerged.

Researchers can freely access the full dataset, including all cases, as well as Country Reports and other resources at foreign-nationals.uwazi.io. Users can build custom searches regarding cases, countries and relevant themes. By browsing our findings and conducting targeted research, users can explore the trends within a given region or state. It is our hope that this will prove a valuable resource to all researchers, providing important tools to effect change for this potentially vulnerable population.

Country-level view on the Mapping Death Row database

We are currently commencing a similar project to ‘map’ those on death row for drug offences across Asia and the Middle East, and seek further funding to ensure that our work on foreign nationals can be developed across Africa and the Caribbean and expanded to include other populations at risk of the death penalty, such as women. If you have data on drugs cases in Asia, or information to update our foreign national cases, we encourage you to contact us to further develop the database. This is a shared resource, which helps all those researching the death penalty, but it is only possible with the efforts of likeminded organisations and people around the world. We hope you will find this to be a useful tool!

The Foreign Nationals on Death Row database can be accessed at: https://foreign-nationals.uwazi.io/