Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 8 News List

[ Letter ]

Death penalty moratorium

The recent move on Oct. 27 by the government to abolish the death penalty in Taiwan is a major breakthrough for the Asian region and one which deserves a lot more publicity than it has been given.

If the laws are approved by the legislature, Taiwan would become the Asian leader in human rights and the nation would join the ever-growing list of countries which have abolished the death penalty.

However, we urge the government to immediately proclaim a moratorium on the death penalty, prior to the culmination of the legislative process.

While the legislature discusses the merits of abolition, lawmakers should be aware of the ongoing miscarriage of justice in the case of three men -- commonly known as the Hsichih Trio -- who are once again facing the death penalty in a new trial despite being acquitted of their alleged crimes in January.

The three men have already spent seven years on death row and their trial has exposed serious flaws in the Taiwanese justice system, including the fact that the case against them is based almost entirely on their confessions -- confessions that were allegedly extracted through torture.

The allegations of torture and apparent lack of material evidence, coupled with extensive irregularities in the investigative process, including unlawful detentions and an illegal search, give grave cause for concern that there has been a miscarriage of justice in this case.

Amnesty International urges the Taiwanese authorities to consider the men's severe emotional distress, the need for an investigation into the allegations of torture and their recent move towards abolishing capital punishment when trying the three men.

Bella Luk

Director,

Amnesty International,Hong Kong

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