Executions condemned globally

DEATH TO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT::The UK, EU and Amnesty International have all urged Taiwan to scrap the death penalty after Tuesday’s executions of five men

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 3

The international community yesterday condemned and expressed regret over the government’s execution of five death-row inmates on Tuesday night, reiterating global calls for an immediate moratorium on Taiwan’s use of capital punishment.

The five men were executed after being found guilty for committing a total of 11 murders, injuring four people and carrying out more than 30 robberies.

In a statement issued yesterday, the British Foreign Office expressed regret over the deaths of the five prisoners, saying it was disappointed that Taiwan had not followed up on its declared intentions to move toward abolishing capital punishment and bring its policies on human rights on a par with international standards.

“We oppose the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and we continue to urge our partners all over the world to join what is a clear global trend towards abolition,” the statement said.

The European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan also reiterated the EU’s objection to the use of the death penalty under any circumstances, posting a statement on Facebook on Tuesday.

The EU has issued several statements in the past deploring Taiwan’s application of the death penalty and has repeatedly urged the government to suspend executions.

Amnesty International also released a statement condemning the executions on the day they were carried out.

“Amnesty International condemns the execution of five people in Taiwan today [Tuesday]. The death sentences were carried out by firing squad [sic] without informing their families or lawyers in advance,” the non-governmental organization said in its statement.

Amnesty’s statement also mentioned the six executions and seven death sentences carried out in Taiwan last year, the same year that the government invited a group of international human rights experts to review its implementation of the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Taiwan ratified the two UN human rights covenants in 2009.

“In Taiwan, the president has the power to grant either a pardon or commutation. However, there are no established procedures for individuals to apply for this. Many of those executed in recent years had sent requests for a pardon or commutation, but received no reply before execution,” the statement said.

The group urged the government to ensure that death-row inmates have an “effective opportunity” to exercise their right to seek a pardon or commutation of their sentence.

In response, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) told the Central News Agency that the ministry would instruct Taiwan’s overseas offices to explain to concerned foreign governments the Taipei administration’s position on capital punishment, which is to uphold the rule of law while gradually reducing the number of death sentences and executions meted out.

“The abolition of the death penalty is the government’s long-term goal. We believe that the capital punishment issue will not affect our dealings with foreign friends,” Lin added.