Thursday, 11 October 2007

Taiwan 'improving' but call for abolition

The Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) this week said the country was "improving but not quite there" and urged its government to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.

On the eve of the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the organisation urged the government "to actively move towards abolition of the death penalty to demonstrate its commitment to join the rest of the world" in the trend against executions.

The organisation said in a statement that the death penalty situation in Taiwan had improved since president Chen Sui-Bian made a commitment in 2000 to move towards abolition.

Following the end of martial law in 1987, the country had reduced the number of crimes punishable by death to 52.

TAEDP said the number of executions had reduced from 38 in 1997 to 0 in 2006, although as of October 2007 there were still 28 inmates on death row.

The organisation said, although Taiwan was not a member of the United Nations, as "a constituent of the global village" it would benefit from "thorough public debate on the death penalty from the perspective of human rights".

"In view of the global movement to abolish the death penalty, Taiwan – in its pursuit for a UN membership -- should take this opportunity to re-examine its commitment to the universal values of human rights that are upheld by the UN," the TAEDP statement said.

"Taiwan has not had any execution for almost two years, since the end of 2005.

"This is an opportune time for Taiwan authority to announce a moratorium as a first step to a holistic approach to total abolition by refining relevant laws and devising supportive measures.

"Taiwan should not be absent from this global movement."

Against death, protecting victims
TAEDP made three appeals to Taiwanese authorities addressing the death penalty and victims of crime:

1. Before a total abolition de jure of the death penalty, President Chen should deliver on his previous commitment to end the death penalty by announcing a moratorium in Taiwan. For inmates currently on death row, the president should pardon them or commute their sentence to life imprisonment.

2. The Minister of Justice should refuse to sign execution orders and should proactively engage in the amendment of relevant laws.

3. A government cannot relinquish its duty to protect victims of crime. Cabinet should devise a comprehensive system to protect them in collaboration with government agencies as well as social service organizations.

Executions in Taiwan
1997 38
1998 32
1999 24
2000 17
2001 10
2002 9
2003 7
2004 3
2005 3
2006 0
Source: TAEDP press release, 9 September, 2007

Related stories:
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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