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April 17 2010 | TAIWAN


The new Minister of Justice too proposed that the death penalty be gradually phased out

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Taipei Times

MOJ to propose end of death penalty

By Vincent Y. Chao

Taiwan moved one step closer to the abolition of capital punishment yesterday after Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (???) proposed that the death penalty be gradually phased out and replaced by life imprisonment without parole.

The Ministry of Justice will propose the amendment to the Criminal Code (??) introducing the new penalty as part of a broader package including educational and legal aid to victims of violent crime within one year, Tseng said in the legislature.

However, the minister also said that the first execution of one of the 44 inmates currently on death row would most likely take place before the end of the year after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators expressed concern over the delay.

The government has not carried out a death sentence since 2005.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (???) said that a number of concerns have been raised as to whether death penalty inmates might be pardoned by President Ma Ying-jeou (???) during the nation’s centennial celebrations next year.

Meanwhile, KMT lawmakers also called on the ministry to consider allowing life imprisonment without parole and capital punishment to co-exist, giving judges an additional sentencing choice.

Recent opinion polls show that seven out of 10 Taiwanese are opposed to the abolition of the death penalty, an issue that Tseng promised to address, saying that he was not opposed to holding a referendum on the subject.

Despite taking steps toward abolition, the ministry has so far declined to confirm whether it would also propose revisions to the Criminal Code such as removing capital punishment entirely.

Speaking on the issue, Tseng said that there was no timetable, adding that the ministry “could not move” until some sort of public consensus is reached.

Meanwhile, during the legislative hearing, Tseng also proposed that the ministry establish a new type of prison facility designed specifically to house those sentenced to life without parole, citing differences in the management of different types of inmates and the need to prevent prison overcrowding.

“Our position is that we need to deal with current cases according to what already exists in the law books. However, it remains our goal to gradually reduce the use of capital punishment through the use of substitute sentencing,” Tseng said.

A panel held by the ministry late last month came to the conclusion that several laws, including those protecting crime victims and beefing up public security, would have to be passed before Taiwan moves to give up capital punishment.

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