Taiwan came under pressure from the EU, European Parliament members and Amnesty International, who said it has failed to honor its commitment to end the death penalty after it executed six death-row inmates on Friday, bringing the number of people executed to 15 in the past three years, following a more than four-year hiatus since late 2005.
In a statement released via the European Economic and Trade Office in Taipei late on Friday night, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said that she “deplore[s]” the six executions on Friday. She added that the action “goes against the abolitionist trend worldwide.”
The EU is opposed to the death penalty in all cases and has repeatedly called on authorities to establish a legal moratorium as a matter of urgency and to work toward abolishing the death penalty.
Ashton said the EU recognized the suffering of victims and their families when faced with terrible crimes and expressed its sincere sympathy to them, but that it believed that the abolition of the death penalty enhanced human dignity and the progressive development of human rights.
The EU also opposes the use of the death penalty because the sentence “does not serve as an effective deterrent” to crimes, and because “any miscarriage of justice, which is inevitable in any legal system, is irreversible,” Ashton said.
Ashton called on the Taiwanese government to avoid undertaking new executions, but instead to take concrete steps toward reducing the use of capital punishment to allow a de facto moratorium to resume.
Central News Agency reported from Brussels that Barbara Lochbihler, chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights in the European Parliament, said that she viewed Friday’s executions as a breach of Taiwan’s commitments.
In an e-mailed reply to the Taipei Times, Lochbihler said the government of Taiwan has repeatedly announced that it was willing to abolish the death penalty, citing as an example the policy adopted by former minister of justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) in 2001, on which former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) followed through.
“The International Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates in Article 3 that ‘everyone has the right to life.’ This includes presumed criminals and [convicted] criminals. Moreover, in December 2007 and 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted resolutions 62/149 and 63/168, calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty,” Lochbihler said.
Taiwan “breaks its international obligations” under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because there is no procedure in Taiwan that would allow people on death row to request pardon or amnesty, a right recognized by the treaty, she said.
Roseann Rife, East Asia head at Amnesty International (AI), issued a statement condemning the executions in which it said the executions “made a mockery of the authorities’ stated commitment to abolish the death penalty.”
“This is cold-blooded killing by the Taiwanese authorities. How can the government credibly claim it wants to see an end to the death penalty when it continues to conduct such actions?” Rife said in the statement. “It is abhorrent to justify taking someone’s life because prisons are overcrowded or the public’s alleged support for the death penalty. The death penalty is never the right answer and must never be used, including as a tool for crime prevention, repression or any other policies.”
Taiwan’s authorities have repeatedly declared their intention to move away from the death penalty and lead a public debate on it, AI said.
“Instead of offering feeble excuses, the authorities should deliver on their commitments to respect everyone’s human rights and move to end the use of the death penalty,” Rife said.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations