Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Minister says abolition plans could be shelved

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government could shelve proposals to abolish the death penalty, at least until the move receives wider public acceptance, the minister of justice said yesterday.

Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) told the legislature that while the government would eventually phase out the death penalty, no timetable existed at present.

Attempting to dodge questions over whether he would continue former minister of justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) policy of staying executions, Tseng said that death row inmates should be executed, but declined to say when, citing the need to wait until internal ministry reviews were completed.

“We are tackling this issue on two fronts. One is carrying out [the death penalty] in the short term, while the long-term plan is to go down the path of abolition, but we do not have a timeframe for this,” Tseng said.

Pressed by KMT legislators, the minister did not give a clear answer on when the ministry would start executing inmates, saying that the 44 would not be executed all at once.

In response to concerns over public support for abolition of the death penalty, Tseng said he would “listen to what the public says and then see if we will abolish the death penalty.”

However, when another KMT lawmaker pressed the matter, Tseng said: “Even if most [eventually] say they [support] the death penalty, we will still push for abolition.”

The comments highlighted the government’s difficulties in revising the law amid polls showing that 70 percent of Taiwanese oppose abolishing the death penalty.

Despite strong support for the death penalty, the government has not carried out an execution since 2005.

Also See: Abolishing executions safeguards our rights

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