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January 4 2008 | SOUTH KOREA

South Korea

South Korea marks 10-year moratorium on death penalty and becomes abolitionist in practice

 
printable version

THE KOREAN HERALD

 

South Korea effectively abolishes death penalty 

 

Campaigners against the death penalty have declared that Korea has abolished capital punishment "in practice."

 

Yesterday marked the 10th year since the nation carried out its last execution, meeting the requirement to be designated an "abolitionist in practice," as defined by Amnesty International.

 

Leading human rights campaigners from religious, political and civic groups held a ceremony at the National Assembly yesterday.

 

They urged the legislature to finally do away with the death penalty, and become a leader in the international human rights movement.

 

Korean law retains the death penalty, but no execution has been carried out since 23 people were hanged on Dec. 30 1997.

 

Currently, 64 people are on death row. Activists let loose 64 pigeons to dramatize their commitment to helping end what they identify as state murder.

 

Amnesty International, the international human rights watchdog, formed an anti-death penalty network in Seoul last October.

 

In late 2004, 175 lawmakers endorsed a bill to abolish the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life in prison without parole. But that move petered out.

 

The Supreme Court ruled consecutively in 1969 and 1987 that capital punishment is constitutional. In 1995, the Constitutional Court upheld those rulings.

 

 

By Cho Ji-hyun

([email protected])

  

 

 

 

SKorea marks 10-year moratorium on death penalty

 

South Korean activists hold placards reading "It is time to abolish death penalty" during a rally demanding the death penalty be removed from the country's criminal code completely at the National Assembly in Seoul. South Korea on Sunday marked its 10-year moratorium on the death penalty.

 

   South Korea on Sunday marked its 10-year moratorium on the death penalty as activists called for the formal abolition of capital punishment.

.

About 50 activists released 64 doves -- symbolising the prisoners on death row -- before parliament, demanding the death penalty be removed from the criminal code.

.

No one has been executed in South Korea since December 30, 1997 but the death penalty remains on the books. A bill to end the practice has languished in parliament for years.

.

"One more thing is left to do -- let parliament get rid of the relevant provisions from the laws, and let's join our hands to get this done," said Lee Sang-Hyck, a lawyer attending the ceremony.

.

"Though probably not feeling physically cold, a number of prisoners on death row are still shivering in mind today," Catholic nun Cho Seung-Ae said.

.

Since South Korea's founding in 1948, 902 people have been executed, mostly by hanging, according to Yonhap news agency.

.

A a moratorium has been imposed on the death penalty since the end of 1997, when then president Kim Dae-Jung was elected.

.

Kim himself was sentenced to death in 1980, charged with inciting a pro-democracy civil uprising against the military government earlier that year which led to the killing of hundreds of protesters by troops.

.

Kim later managed to win a reprieve and amnesty.

.

President Roh Moo-Hyun, a former human rights lawyer, who took office in 2002, has also followed in Kim's footsteps.

.

President-elect Lee Myung-Bak, a Christian elder of the conservative opposition Grand National Party, has said he would maintain the death penalty but use it with restraint. Lee will replace Roh in February.

.

According to Amnesty International, 133 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, while 64 countries and territories retain and use capital punishment, although the number of countries which actually execute prisoners in any one year is much smaller. — AFP

South Korea on Sunday marked its 10-year moratorium on the death penalty as activists called for the formal abolition of capital punishment.

.

About 50 activists released 64 doves -- symbolising the prisoners on death row -- before parliament, demanding the death penalty be removed from the criminal code.

.

No one has been executed in South Korea since December 30, 1997 but the death penalty remains on the books. A bill to end the practice has languished in parliament for years.

.

"One more thing is left to do -- let parliament get rid of the relevant provisions from the laws, and let's join our hands to get this done," said Lee Sang-Hyck, a lawyer attending the ceremony.

.

"Though probably not feeling physically cold, a number of prisoners on death row are still shivering in mind today," Catholic nun Cho Seung-Ae said.

.

Since South Korea's founding in 1948, 902 people have been executed, mostly by hanging, according to Yonhap news agency.

.

A a moratorium has been imposed on the death penalty since the end of 1997, when then president Kim Dae-Jung was elected.

.

Kim himself was sentenced to death in 1980, charged with inciting a pro-democracy civil uprising against the military government earlier that year which led to the killing of hundreds of protesters by troops.

.

Kim later managed to win a reprieve and amnesty.

.

President Roh Moo-Hyun, a former human rights lawyer, who took office in 2002, has also followed in Kim's footsteps.

.

President-elect Lee Myung-Bak, a Christian elder of the conservative opposition Grand National Party, has said he would maintain the death penalty but use it with restraint. Lee will replace Roh in February.

.

According to Amnesty International, 133 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, while 64 countries and territories retain and use capital punishment, although the number of countries which actually execute prisoners in any one year is much smaller. — AFP South Korea on Sunday marked its 10-year moratorium on the death penalty as activists called for the formal abolition of capital punishment.

.

About 50 activists released 64 doves -- symbolising the prisoners on death row -- before parliament, demanding the death penalty be removed from the criminal code.

.

No one has been executed in South Korea since December 30, 1997 but the death penalty remains on the books. A bill to end the practice has languished in parliament for years.

.

"One more thing is left to do -- let parliament get rid of the relevant provisions from the laws, and let's join our hands to get this done," said Lee Sang-Hyck, a lawyer attending the ceremony.

.

"Though probably not feeling physically cold, a number of prisoners on death row are still shivering in mind today," Catholic nun Cho Seung-Ae said.

.

Since South Korea's founding in 1948, 902 people have been executed, mostly by hanging, according to Yonhap news agency.

.

A a moratorium has been imposed on the death penalty since the end of 1997, when then president Kim Dae-Jung was elected.

.

Kim himself was sentenced to death in 1980, charged with inciting a pro-democracy civil uprising against the military government earlier that year which led to the killing of hundreds of protesters by troops.

South Korean activists hold placards reading "It is time to abolish death penalty" during a rally demanding the death penalty be removed from the country's criminal code completely at the National Assembly in Seoul. South Korea on Sunday marked its 10-year moratorium on the death penalty.

 

   South Korea on Sunday marked its 10-year moratorium on the death penalty as activists called for the formal abolition of capital punishment.

.

About 50 activists released 64 doves -- symbolising the prisoners on death row -- before parliament, demanding the death penalty be removed from the criminal code.

.

No one has been executed in South Korea since December 30, 1997 but the death penalty remains on the books. A bill to end the practice has languished in parliament for years.

.

"One more thing is left to do -- let parliament get rid of the relevant provisions from the laws, and let's join our hands to get this done," said Lee Sang-Hyck, a lawyer attending the ceremony.

.

"Though probably not feeling physically cold, a number of prisoners on death row are still shivering in mind today," Catholic nun Cho Seung-Ae said.

.

Since South Korea's founding in 1948, 902 people have been executed, mostly by hanging, according to Yonhap news agency.

.

A a moratorium has been imposed on the death penalty since the end of 1997, when then president Kim Dae-Jung was elected.

.

Kim himself was sentenced to death in 1980, charged with inciting a pro-democracy civil uprising against the military government earlier that year which led to the killing of hundreds of protesters by troops.

.

Kim later managed to win a reprieve and amnesty.

.

President Roh Moo-Hyun, a former human rights lawyer, who took office in 2002, has also followed in Kim's footsteps.

.

President-elect Lee Myung-Bak, a Christian elder of the conservative opposition Grand National Party, has said he would maintain the death penalty but use it with restraint. Lee will replace Roh in February.

.

According to Amnesty International, 133 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, while 64 countries and territories retain and use capital punishment, although the number of countries which actually execute prisoners in any one year is much smaller. — AFP

South Korea on Sunday marked its 10-year moratorium on the death penalty as activists called for the formal abolition of capital punishment.

.

About 50 activists released 64 doves -- symbolising the prisoners on death row -- before parliament, demanding the death penalty be removed from the criminal code.

.

No one has been executed in South Korea since December 30, 1997 but the death penalty remains on the books. A bill to end the practice has languished in parliament for years.

.

"One more thing is left to do -- let parliament get rid of the relevant provisions from the laws, and let's join our hands to get this done," said Lee Sang-Hyck, a lawyer attending the ceremony.

 

 

 

Editorial, Jan. 02.01.08  the Korea Herald

Dying death penalty 

 

Six men had their death sentences commuted to a life term under President Roh's New Year special amnesty. That left 58 convicts on death row in this country, but they, too, must know that their execution is hardly likely.

 

On Dec. 30, South Korea became one of the virtually execution-free countries designated by Amnesty International because there has been no execution here for 10 years, and the administration and National Assembly are procrastinating as to whether or not to abolish the ultimate punishment.

 

President-elect Lee Myung-bak said during the campaign that it's necessary to retain capital punishment, but this assertion was believed to have been included in a package of his conservative platforms. The last conservative government, that of President Kim Young-sam, executed 23 individuals on Dec. 30, 1997, less than two months before the change in administrations.

 

The global trend is toward abolishing the death penalty, and the National Human Rights Commission spearheads the anti-execution movement here. Ko Jong-won, whose mother, wife and only son were murdered by the serial killer, Yu Yeong-cheol, has signed on to the abolition campaign, but public opinion here is still overwhelmingly in favor of its retention -- nearly 80 percent in the latest poll.

 

A decision will have to be made because the indefinite postponement which began with the inauguration of President Kim Dae-jung, who himself was once sentenced to death for sedition, is excessive and a form of evasiveness. This matter should be one of the first to be taken up by the next National Assembly, which will be elected in April.

 

In a bill pending in the National Assembly, and proposed by 175 lawmakers, life in prison without parole would replace the death sentence. Our representatives need to make punctilious efforts to identify all the key factors at hand, including the widespread belief that a person like Yu does not deserve humane treatment, no matter what.

 

2008.01.03

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