Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Taiwan: Call for death penalty study

From the Taipei Times:

Academics call for review of policy that capital punishment deters crime
By Shelley Huang
Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009, Page 2

Academics yesterday urged the government to review its policy on capital punishment by conducting an in-depth study on whether it discourages crime.

A panel discussion on the death penalty and its effect on crime rates was held yesterday as part of a book launch to promote "New Ideology beyond the Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty," a collection of essays from a seminar organized by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty last November.

"We hope to initiate dialogue on the issue of the death penalty from a rational point of view," said Birgitt Ory, director of the German Institute Taipei, which co-sponsored the publication of the book.

The institute aims to share Germany's experiences following its abolition of the death penalty. It also hopes Taiwanese would find "living in a society without the death penalty is not only a possibility, but also a better choice," Ory said.

The book contains essays by four German academics and detailed discussions among the four and 15 Taiwanese experts who participated in the conference on social security, prison reform, protection of victims and other issues.

"What is written on paper will be preserved," Ory said. "We hope to provide thought-provoking ways of looking at the issue of the death penalty and inspire readers' thinking on the subject."

Panelists said that taking the life of a criminal was not necessarily the best way to compensate for the loss of the victim.

Experts urged President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) administration to set a timeline for gradually abolishing the death penalty, instead of delaying it until the next president takes office.

Attorney Nigel Li (李念祖), who is also a board member of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said that since the legislature on March 31 ratified the Act Governing Execution of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (公民與政治權利國際公約及經濟社會文化權利國際公約施行法), Taiwan should re-examine its law on the death penalty.

Since Taiwan has not executed a death row prisoner in more than four years, panelists urged the government to perform a statistical analysis on the crime rate to determine whether the abolishment of death penalty would have any effect on discouraging crime.

Related stories:
Taiwanese group stirs debate on abolition -- 23 October 2008
Life Watch to save Taiwan's innocent from death -- 12 February 2008
Torment on Taiwan's death row -- 15 May 2007
Taiwan limits mandatory penalties -- 29 January 2007
Abolition debate for Taiwan in 2007 -- 12 January 2007
Taiwan: Death penalty benefit an 'illusion' -- 14 December 2006
Taiwan working towards abolition? -- 21 February 2006

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