EU official speaks on death penalty

CLEAR CAUSE::The EU intends to continue to push for the abolition of the death penalty in Taiwan in its dialogues with government officials, the EU official said

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jan 04, 2013 - Page 3

Rejecting criticism that EU condemnation of Taiwan’s death penalty policy constituted interference in the nation’s internal affairs, EU Representative to Taiwan Frederic Laplanche yesterday said that abolition of the death penalty is a universal issue in human rights that the EU wishes all countries to observe for their own good.

“We don’t interfere in internal affairs of other countries. We never do that,” Laplanche said in Mandarin during an interview with online news Web site Newtalk.

The EU does not exert pressure on other countries to end capital punishment by making demands, setting conditions or tying the issue to other cooperative projects, Laplanche said.

“That’s not the way we do things,” he said.

Like other human rights issues, the death penalty is a universal problem; a problem with regard to the fundamental idea of humanity, which requires “concerted global efforts” by all humankind to achieve the goal of death penalty repeal, he said.

Since Taiwan dropped its moratorium on executions, a total of 15 death row inmates were executed in three batches in April 2010, March 2011 and last month, each followed by a statement of condemnation from the EU, which has identified abolition of the death penalty a key objective for its human rights policy.

Laplanche said that it was the understanding of the EU that “Taiwan’s government aims to end the death penalty, despite being a long-term goal.”

“Carrying out executions was a wrong [toward achieving that goal],” he said.

Generally speaking, Taiwan has a good human rights record, especially in the areas of its democratic system and freedom of expression, Laplanche said.

The progress Taiwan has made in improving its human rights situation, such as the incorporation of two UN covenants on human rights into its domestic laws, has been noted by the EU, Laplanche added.

“We see hope for progress in human rights [in Taiwan]. The EU would like to see more concrete action being taken to move forward in [Taiwan’s] goal of abolishing the death penalty,” Laplanche said.

Laplanche said that the EU will continue to push for the abolition of the death penalty in Taiwan in its dialogues with government officials.

That public surveys found that most people in Taiwan are in favor of retaining the death penalty was the same situation facing most European countries when the issue was discussed, Laplanche said.

“However, if rational debate and education begin, people would find life imprisonment an acceptable alternative,” he said.

Taiwan’s policy on the death penalty was not a factor affecting the EU’s decision to lift visa requirements for Republic of China passport holders, which took effect in January 2011, because the EU also grants visa waiver status to Japan and the US, which both retain capital punishment.

“We have no reason to treat Taiwan differently,” he said.

“Most importantly, it’s of equal importance how we advocate the ideal. We wish to promote the idea through rational dialogues and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect. Otherwise, we would not think our approach legitimate,” he said.

“No judicial system in the world is perfect,” Laplanche said.

There are always miscarriages of justice and any capital punishment that results from a miscarriage of justice represents an irreversible loss of life, he said.