Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Torment on Taiwan's death row

A suicide attempt by a death row prisoner in Taiwan has revealed the mental anguish suffered by people waiting for the state to take their lives.

Chang Pao-hui (張胞輝) tried to kill himself by swallowing 13 batteries in Hualien Prison in late March, according to a report in The Taipei Times online.

He was rushed to hospital, where doctors operated to remove the batteries from his stomach and intestines.

The Taipei Times said Chang was thought to have been unable to bear the stress of waiting for his execution, which has been delayed for more than 20 months.

It seems his stress was not significantly eased by the fact that Taiwan's Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been trying to avoid carrying out executions while it moves towards abolishing the death penalty.

A prison official told reporters that Chang seemed emotional recently, and his family rarely visited him.

He was convicted of three murders committed in 2002 and 2003. In June 2005 the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.

Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) told a legislative committee hearing two days later: "I felt sorry and sad on hearing about the incident."

But he said "the ministry has not changed its goal of abolishing the death penalty in Taiwan".

In January, the Ministry of Justice announced that during 2007 it would encourage public debate about abolishing the death penalty.

In February 2006, Justice Minister Morley Shih said the government was moving towards abolition of the death penalty.

Death watch on death row
Another death row inmate, Huang Chih-hsien (黃志賢), reportly committed suicide in Hualien Prison in January, by swallowing three batteries.
The prison official said prison officers had taken steps to ensure the seven death row inmates at Hualien did not kill themselves.
The Taipei Times reported there are currently 24 prisoners under sentence of death in Taiwan.

Related stories:
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

1 comment:

Bob Honest said...

Yes, Taiwan would look good without the death punishment, especially compared to Mainland China (Taiwan is the Republic of China by official name). Getting rid of death punishment is good anyway...