Envoy meets with NGO over death penalty

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 - Page 2

Taiwan’s representative to France has accepted 106,000 signatures from French citizens urging Taiwan to retry a death-row convict and suspend executions as a first step toward the abolition of the death penalty.

Michel Lu (呂慶龍) accepted the signatures from Genevieve Garrigos, head of the French division of Amnesty International (AI), at Taiwan’s representative office in Paris on Thursday.

AI, a non-governmental organization (NGO), has been monitiring developments in the campaign for Taiwan to abrogate capital punishment since December last year.

The London-headquartered NGO has also mobilized its members to write to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) urging a retrial of death-row inmate Chiou Ho-shun (邱和順) and a suspension of execution.

During his meeting with Lu, Garrigos reiterated AI’s stance and its hopes that Taiwan will eventually abolishing the death penalty.

Regarding the Chiou case, Lu denied AI’s allegations that Chiou was tortured into confessing to a crime and that the two prosecutors and 10 police officers investigating the case have since been impeached.

Lu said that the Taiwanese government has promoted public debate on whether the death penalty should be phased out.

In line with traditional Chinese thinking that those who commit crime should be punished, up to 76.7 percent of Taiwanese are still opposed to abrogation of capital punishment, a sentiment that is clear from the results of a series of public opinion polls, Lu said.

As Taiwan is a country that upholds rule of law, its government must execute the death penalty in accordance with the law until such a penalty is abolished, Lu said.

Nevertheless, the government respects AI’s stance and its appeals and is more than willing to continue dialogue with its representatives to boost mutual understanding, he added.

In response, Garrigos expressed his gratitude for Lu’s explanations, but reaffirmed AI’s hope that Taiwan would suspend executions pending eventual abrogation of the penalty.

Garrigos said that AI would like to provide more data to prove that crime rates in countries that have abolished capital punishment have not risen in the wake of the abrogation and that she is willing to travel to Taiwan to communicate with Taiwanese proponents of capital punishment.