Saturday, May 01, 2010

Taiwan executes 4, causes international furor

International complaints, sure, but locally the death penalty has overwhelming support. Nothing, however, casts the arbitrariness and political nature of the death penalty into such sharp relief as the four executions carried out today, in four different prisons:
Four people on death row were executed yesterday evening, the Ministry of Justice announced last night.

The ministry made the announcement after the four people were shot with pistols at 7:30pm at four different prisons.

The four had been given death sentences and were executed in accordance with the law, the ministry said.
The death penalty, the article says, has not been carried out since 2005 even though it is on the books, and arguably, required. As the Taipei Times noted, this quiet policy had aroused no objections until the previous Minister of Justice had dramatically stated that she would not sign the orders. She was forced to resign after a public outcry. Unfortunately, this put the fate of the 44 individuals on death row in the public spotlight. The Taipei Times concluded:
At a hearing held in Banciao (板橋), Taipei County, on April 21, Tseng said the ministry would review the cases of all 44 inmates now on death row, and exhaust all relief measures before carrying out any executions.

“Carrying out the death sentences will not drag to the end of this year,” Tseng said at the time.
They're going to whack all 44 this year.
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Anonymous said...

An interesting side note regarding the timing of these executions. Since Ma is the self-appointed imperial guardian of all sacred Chinese things, it was mentioned to me that in Daoist/Buddhist traditions, executions should only occur in autumn (the metal season, the time of withering). They are not supposed to be done in Spring, the time of growing, emerging, renewal...

Kira said...

I don't see the problem. There is widespread support for capital punishment in the ROC, as well as in neighboring nations (Japan, Korea.) The people executed yesterday all had committed heinous acts.

Okami said...

What are they on death row for mostly? Violence or drugs?

Anonymous said...

Barbaric! Those who perform these executions will accumulate huge bad karma.

無名 - wu ming said...

more harmonization with china.

SY said...

I was told that the DPP's stand has been against the death penalty. In Chen's first four year term, the Chen Shui-Bian administration raised the issue of abolishing it but met with resistance primarily from the KMT, which, as always, dominated the Legislative Yuan. The Chen admin decided to go by the "Don't ask, don't act" policy to leave the issue of death penalty dormant for a while, with the hope of bringing it back on the legislative agenda in the future.

It is not clear to me what the former minister of justice Ms. Wang Ching-feng intended to do when she all of sudden (with no apparent cause) stirred up the issue and brought those on the death row under the public spotlight. Did she really mean to force the public to have a fair debate on death penalty? If so, what has she done since she brought the issue up? As far as I know, nothing. It looked more like a political show or an ego trip. When she was all high talking about her willing to go to hell on behalf of those who've sinned, DPP chose to stay low key (so was I told), because they knew the public was not ready for a real debate, the society is still too divided Green vs. Blue.

In my mind, the Chen Admin's approach was proper; that is, leave the issue and stay the executions until the public is ready for a real debate about it.

PS: Both Chen Shui-Bian and Frank Hsieh have been on record speaking against death pentalty; for instance, Chen expressed his stand when meeting with IFHR Vice Chair Siobhan Ni Chulachain in Sept., 2005 (refer to this news piece, in which Chen also noted his intention of staying the then pending executions.)

Anonymous said...

Nevertheless, the DPP is "the party of violence."

Makes me sick.

Raj said...

That's the law. Unless there's evidence to say they DIDN'T do the crimes (or the punishment is disproportional) I'm not sure it's for us to whine about it.

Not to say it's wrong to argue for the death penalty to be cancelled, but if the public want it, it's on their heads.

Unknown said...

For me, the death penalty would not be as problematic if there was a viable jury system here (as in the U.S.). But because there is only a judge to determine the outcome of a trial, and judgements can therefore be political and biased, particularly in the political climate that is Taiwan, justice can be precarious. Charges can be trumped up, or the result of incompetence, and there are fewer checks and balances available that one has in US, Canadian, or British courts.
The death penalty is not absolutely morally objectionable, but even in the US there are problems with it. In Taiwan, the probability that innocent, or unjustly sentenced people will be put to death is simply way too high in the current political climate.

Marc said...

It's easy to argue against the death penalty on broad moral or religious ground, but I wonder if the debate in Taiwan has anything to do with who tends to end up on death row.

Killing people for revenge under state-sanctioned control is merely a way to prevent vigilantism - and in that respect, we could argue two wrongs don't make a right, since executions, like torture, do nothing to prevent others from criminal or seditious behavior.

What I'm wondering, however, is how many currently on death row, or who have been eliminated in Taiwan's state-sanctioned executions are disproportionately non-KMT Taiwanese, coming especially from rural poor areas, some of whom may not have had fair trials in the first place.

Perhaps that could be one reason the DPP champions ending the practice.

Michael Fahey said...

I think Wang's intemperate comments were made when she was questioned at the Legislature and the provoked a media circus. The Ma administration then felt it needed to sacrifice a few criminals on the altar of public opinion. Probably a sign of how insecure the Ma administration feels more than anything else.

The Chief Prosecutor said that that the other 40 death row prisoners have constitutional appeals. I suspect that this is a way to avoid more executions until the public has forgotten about the issue again.

Apparently at least one of the other 40 has begged to be executed. I think we will see a few more executions later this year and then another indefinite moratorium.

mx said...

I said it before and will say it again, there is an easy solution....

Just give a piece of rope and a stool to anyone on death row. If they want to end their life, they have the means.

In addition, if they decide to op out, his/her family or victims of his/her crime will get 50% of the saved longterm cost that would have been spent to house the prisoner.

win win... in a sad, but matter of fact way.

Anonymous said...

There is some Taiwanese soldier/policeman that won't have a good sleep and a huge burden on the shoulders for the next months to come...

There isn't other way that shot the people with a pistol ?