Mon, Jan 02, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Nation keeps death penalty, but reduces executions

PHASING OUT The government hasn't been able to fulfill its goal of abolishing the death penalty. But it has lowered the number of people it actually executes instead

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Last January, the ministry executed Wang Chung-hsing (王中興) for dumping six Chinese women into the Taiwan Strait while he was being chased by the coast guard. All six drowned.

According to the ministry's records, the nation's annual number of executions has been decreasing for years. Thirty-two prisoners were executed in 1998, a number that shrank to just ten in 201, and only three each in 2004 and last year.

Shih said that Taiwan might not be able to abolish the death penalty soon, because a majority of the public believes that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments, and that without the death penalty, relatives of the victims of cruel crimes would not be given justice.

According to the global human-rights group Amnesty International, "while a total of 122 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, 74 other countries and territories retain and use the death penalty, but the number of countries which actually execute prisoners in any one year is much smaller."

The organization said that based on publicly-available reports, at least 3,400 people are executed in China each year, but that the true number is thought to be much higher.

In March 2004 a delegate at the National People's Congress said that "nearly 10,000" people are executed every year in China, the organization added.

Agruments for an against the death penalty

For

*The existence of the death penalty is the only way to truly deter criminals and maintain social order.

*The death penalty is the only way to comfort members of a victim's family and society at large.

*The human rights of both the victim and the accused must be taken into consideration. Issuing the death penalty for heinous crimes is the only way to meet social expectations. Would a lesser verdict than the death penalty for kidnapper and killer Chen Chin-hsing (陳進興) or the killer or killers of former Taoyuan County chief Liu Pang-yu (劉邦友) and seven others be acceptable to social?

*Society must be fair and just, If the death penalty cannot be applied to someone who has killed many people, this fairness and justice is lost.

Against

*The death penalty does not solve the crime problem. Both local and international studies have found that instituting the death penalty does not have an impact on social order, and in particular does not reduce the rate of serious crime.

*It is different to avoid making mistakes in investigations, and inevitably some people are mistakenly charged with crimes. Having a death penalty means some innocent people may be put to death.

*Executing a criminal is a primitive form of revenge that does not help society advance.

*No one, not even the state, has the right to kill. Respect for life must also include respect for the lives of killers.

*The abolishment of the death penalty is an international trend, and it is beneficial to a country’ image and diplomacy.

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