Friday, 12 January 2007

Abolition debate for Taiwan in 2007

Taiwan's Ministry of Justice has announced that during 2007 it would encourage debate about abolishing the death penalty, including a program of research, seminars and public hearings across the country.

The China Post reported that the ministry would encourage the public to think about and debate the issues, according to Chang Chi-yun, the director of the ministry's Department of Prevention, Rehabilitation and Protection.

Chang said the ministry would encourage members of the public to participate in hearings in northern, central and southern Taiwan during the year.

He said he had also met with members of groups opposed to the death penalty and family members of the victims of crime.

The ministry would also commission research into the issue from the Crime Research Center of the National Chung Cheng University, Chung said.

Gradual move
In February 2006, Justice Minister Morley Shih said the government was moving towards abolition of the death penalty. But he said a majority of people believed it was needed as a deterrent against crime.

According to a report in the Taipei Times, he said the Ministry of Justice had filed extraordinary appeals to the Supreme Court in an effort to delay the execution of some prisoners.

Where the Supreme Court had rejected these appeals, the MOJ had also attempted to stay the executions.

Last month Amnesty International condemned the final approval for the execution of Chong Deshu, issued by the Ministry of Justice just three weeks after the Justice Minister said execution was "not the answer" to crime. (ADP story here.)

Following the approval, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) made an urgent application to the Supreme Prosecutors' Office to review documents relating to Chung's case.

Related stories:
Taiwan: Death penalty benefit an 'illusion' -- 14 December 2006
Taiwan working towards abolition? -- 21 February 2006

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