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March 12 2010 | TAIWAN


Minister of Justice, Mrs Wang Ching-Feng, resigns over death penalty. President does not support her

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Asia News

TAIWAN:Taipei, ministro della giustizia si dimette: è contraria alla pena di morte

Ha dichiarato di voler piuttosto morire che ordinare l’esecuzione di uno dei 44 reclusi nel braccio della morte. La Cina ha il primato delle condanne a morte nel mondo. Ma a tutt’oggi almeno 139 Paesi l’hanno abolita.

Taipei 12/03/2010 – Il ministro della giustizia Wang Ching-feng ha dato le dimissioni dopo essere stata oggetto di feroci critiche per la sua opposizione alla pena di morte. Il premier Wu Den-yih lo ha comunicato stamane, dicendo che rispetta la sua decisione.

Giorni fa Wang (nella foto) ha dichiarato che avrebbe lasciato il governo piuttosto che far eseguire la condanna a morte su uno dei 44 condannati nel braccio della morte. Ella ha aggiunto che avrebbe preferito morire al loro posto o “scendere all’inferno” per loro.

Quest’oggi ha dichiarato alla stampa: “Tutti cercano di spingermi a eseguire delle condanne a morte, a uccidere persone, ma io semplicemente non posso. La migliore scelta per me è di lasciare”.

La sua posizione ha generato una valanga di critiche da parte di parlamentari e di attivisti favorevoli a mantenere la pena di morte nel Paese. Il governo ha dovuto perfino diffondere un comunicato precisando che non avrebbe abolito la pena capitale.

Anche il predecessore della Wang era contrario alla pena di morte. A Taiwan non vi è alcuna esecuzione capitale dal 2005.

Il famoso penalista Chuang Hsiu-ming ha detto che finché la pena di morte rimane nelle leggi taiwanesi, un ministro della giustizia non può rifiutarsi di autorizzare le esecuzioni, perché sarebbe andare contro la legge e la Costituzione.

Secondo la Judicial Reform Foundation, una ong che cerca di riformare il codice dell’isola, Wang dovrebbe essere applaudita per aver avuto “lo stomaco” di affrontare la questione della pena di morte.

Secondo gli ultimi dati disponibili, nel 2008 sono state eseguite 2390 condanne. La Cina ne detiene il primato con 1718. Intanto nel mondo cresce la sensibilità ad abolire la pena di morte. Negli anni ‘70 solo 23 Paesi avevano abolito la pena di morte; oggi ve ne sono 139.


Taiwan News

Taiwan President fails to support Justice Minister on abolition death penalty

Minister Wang faces barrage of calls for her resignation

TAIPEI– Legal amendments were necessary to cut the number of executions, but Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng should adhere to the law, the Presidential Office said Thursday in a statement about the controversy enveloping the minister.

Media interpreted the presidential comments as a move against Wang amid a barrage of criticism over her refusal to approve the execution of any of the country’s 44 death row convicts.

In a statement Tuesday, she said she’d rather resign than have even one of the prisoners executed. Her views clashed with comments by her deputy, Huang Shih-ming, who has been facing questioning by lawmakers in the run-up to a vote on his appointment as state prosecutor-general by President Ma Ying-jeou.

Presidential spokesman Lo Chih-chiang read a statement emphasizing the rule of law, implying Wang could not refuse to sign orders to execute convicts already sentenced to death. Lawmakers have accused Wang of breaking the law by not going ahead with executions.

Lo said that because there was no consensus in the country, there could not be a decision at present to do away with capital punishment.

The comments by the Presidential Office followed calls for Wang’s immediate resignation or dismissal by lawmakers and by relatives of murder victims.

At a news conference Thursday morning, they accused the minister of being unfit to serve. Entertainer Pai Ping-ping called on citizens to use their vote in the year-end elections to protest against Wang. The kidnapping and murder of her teenage daughter Pai Hsiao-yen in 1997 was one of Taiwan’s highest profile crimes. The man found guilty was later executed.

The father of a murdered boy told the news conference the government might use the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China next year to issue a general amnesty covering all death row prisoners.

“She is completely unfit to serve but should run for lawmaker after her departure,” said KMT lawmaker Wu Yu-sheng, calling on Premier Wu Den-yih to sack her.

Human rights and religious groups expressed their support for Wang. If it is wrong for people to kill other people, how can it be right for the government to kill people, activists said. They pointed out that a majority of nations in the world had abolished capital punishment, and called on Taiwan to follow suit.

“Respect for the law cannot be built on the executioner’s platform,” said a banner at the human rights groups’ news conference.

Wang stood her ground, saying the case would become an international laughing stock if she was forced to resign for her opposition to capital punishment.

“There is no justice minister in any country in the world who ever resigned over delaying executions of wanting to abolish the death penalty,” she said.

“Despite all the pressure, I will still go ahead and do the right thing,” she said, adding it was not important whether she would lose her Cabinet job or not.

Wang has defended her stance by saying capital punishment went against the right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Members of the Control Yuan, the nation’s top government watchdog, were reportedly preparing to investigate her.

Cabinet spokesman Johnny Chiang said Wang’s personal opinion would be respected. The government would discuss all options but not take a decision until a consensus had been reached, he said.

The comments from the Presidential Office touched off speculation that Wang would announce her resignation. If so, the justice minister would become the second Cabinet member in a week to leave, after Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang tendered his surprise resignation Monday over differences on how to save the troubled national health insurance system. President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Wu Den-yih still want him to stay.


China Times

Justice minister under fire for death penalty stance

MOJ Minister Wang Chin-feng is calling on the government to do away with capital punishment. (CNA)

Justice Minister Wang Chin-feng has come under fire from a broad cross-section of Taiwan society, including government officials and legal professionals, for her call to halt the executions of death row prisoners.

Control Yuan member Gau Feng-shian, a former Taiwan High Court judge, said the minister’s comments should be seen strictly as personal opinions.

“The decision to execute 44 convicts on death row should be based on law, rather than just Wang’s say-so,” she said.

Chao Chang-ping, also a Control Yuan member, said the justice minister must approve carrying out the death sentences, otherwise her actions constitute professional negligence.

“Under the law, convicts on death row must be executed unless a reasonable excuse is presented,” Chao said, adding that he would look into the appropriateness of Wang’s actions to determine whether it ran contrary to the principles of fairness and the rule of law.

Chuang Hsiu-ming, a high-profile local lawyer, said that as long as the death penalty remains on the ROC’s statute books, Wang’s actions in refusing to authorize executions are a violation of the law and the Constitution.

“As the country’s justice minister, it is inappropriate for Wang to speak out against capital punishment,” he said.

According to the Judicial Reform Foundation, a Taipei-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting judicial reform in Taiwan, Wang should be applauded for having the “guts” to tackle the tricky death penalty issue.

“Given that doing away with capital punishment is part of the administration’s policy platform, there is little likelihood of this issue being swept under the carpet,” JRF Director Lin Feng-cheng said.

“The government has a responsibility to stick its head above the parapet and state its position on this policy.” (CYH-JSM)



Taiwan minister resigns over death penalty row

TAIPEI, Taiwan _ Taiwan's justice minister hasresigned after her public stance against the death penalty failed to win popular backing.

The decision by Wang Ching-feng _ announced by the Cabinet late Thursday _ highlights the continued support for capital punishment in Taiwan, despite the island's four-year de facto moratorium on executions.

On Wednesday, Wang said she would not issue death warrants against any of the 44 inmates now on death row.

«I would rather step down than sign any death warrant,» she said. «If these convicts can have an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves, I would be very happy to be executed or even go to hell in their stead.»

That statement set off a firestorm of criticism, not only among relatives of victims of violent crime, but also among members of her ruling Nationalist Party, including President Ma Ying-jeou.

«Death sentences have to be carried out according to the law,» said Ma spokesman Lo Chih-chiang. «Any stay of execution has to have compelling legal reasons to be granted.»

Taiwanese actress Pai Ping-ping, whose daughter was murdered by kidnappers in 1997, also lashed out at Wang's statement.

«Wang has deeply hurt Taiwanese people's feelings,» she said. «She is rubbing salt into our wounds by promoting her own beliefs.»

Opposition to Wang's stance was reflected in a poll taken late Wednesday by Taiwan's mass circulation United Daily News.

The telephone poll of 792 adults found 74 percent were opposed to the abolition of the death penalty and 42 percent were in favor of Wang stepping down over her position on the issue. The poll had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Despite the high level of support for the death penalty among Taiwanese, the island has not executed anyone since December 2005. Two people were executed that year, while a total of 49 people died between 2000 and 2005.

Taiwanese laws stipulate that a range of major crimes are punishable by death, including murder and kidnapping.

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