Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj has announced a moratorium on the death penalty, and called for the punishment to be abolished.

Mr Elbegdorj told parliament that the punishment degraded Mongolia's dignity.

He is known to have commuted at least three death sentences since taking power last year.

Exact figures on capital punishment in Mongolia are hard to establish, but at least one man was executed in 2008, and nine are believed to be on death row.

Challenge ahead

"The majority of the world's countries have chosen to abolish the death penalty. We should follow this path," Mr Elbegdorj told parliament.

As president, he has the power to commute any death sentences, but changing the law is likely to be much more of a challenge.

He will need help from members of Mongolia's opposition-dominated parliament, many of whom still favour harsh punishments.

According to Amnesty International, 95 countries have so far banned the death penalty, but in much of Asia the death penalty is still an important part of the judicial system.