The Ministry of Justice yesterday said it would “cautiously” review its options for all death row inmates, but would neither abolish the death sentence nor turn its back on the spirit of two international treaties that Taiwan has signed.
The comments came after 11 murder cases rocked the nation over the past month.
Research shows no direct correlation between upholding the death penalty and decreasing homicides, the ministry said, adding that it would “cautiously” handle the issue of capital punishment, as Taiwan has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
While the nation has ratified both treaties, the ministry said that Item 2, Article 1 of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which stipulates that “each state party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction,” does not apply to Taiwan, as it is not a member of the UN.
However, Taiwan must be extremely cautious in its handling of such issues and strive to abide by the spirit of both treaties, the ministry said, adding that the nation should also seek to avoid incidents like the Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) case.
Chiang was accused of raping and killing a girl surnamed Hsieh (謝) in 1996 at Air Force Command Headquarters in Taipei and pleaded guilty after being tortured. He was executed in 1997 at the age of 21.
On Sept. 13, 2011, a military court exonerated Chiang in a posthumous trial.
The ministry said that it established a task force six years ago to examine the viability of abolishing capital punishment, but executions continue to be carried out.
The latest death row inmate to be executed was Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) on May 10, 2016. Cheng killed four people on May 21, 2014, during a stabbing spree.
No judicial judgement or execution could help solve the social or other problems that lead people to commit crimes, Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said.
Significant changes to family life, education, society and even the economy over the past few years have significantly affected people’s lives, and these problems are the root causes of an increase in criminal activity, he said.
The judiciary is on the back end and can only hand out appropriate sentences for crimes that have already been committed, he added.
Chiu suggested that a social safety network be established that would involve the ministries of the interior, education and labor to tackle the root causes of increased criminal activity.
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