Media Release – 5/5/2016
ADPAN WELCOMES THE RELEASE OF TAIWAN’S DEATH ROW INMATE, CHENG HSING-TSE – Taiwan Must Abolish the Death Penalty-
ADPAN (Anti Death Penalty Asian Network) welcomes the release of death-row inmate Cheng Hsing-tse (鄭性澤) by the Taiwan High Court(Taipei Times, 4/5/2016). Cheng has been languishing in prison for 14 years, of which for 10 years he was on death row. He has now been released on bail pending retrial.
New evidence raising doubts about his conviction for the death of police officer Su Hsien-pi had been successfully raised by Cheng’s lawyers, in this case wherein for a long time Human Rights Groups, including ADPAN member, Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, has highlighted that that there were possible defects in the original investigation and questionable evidence used by prosecutors, including the confession of Cheng, which may have been as a result of torture.
Cheng’s case is the fifth case in recent times, whereby a death row inmate had been released. Others include the Hsichih Trio case of Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bin-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳), who were found not guilty in 2012.
Cheng’s case is also significant for Taiwan as it is the first time that a man whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court has been released. It also demonstrates that even with the existence of the right of appeals in the administration of justice, mistakes may not be detected and the risk that an innocent man may have been wrongly deprived of his life is very real. It was reported that Cheng’s case had allegedly gone through seven trials and seven retrials, including the Supreme Court upholding his death sentence in 2006, and Cheng was lucky that he did not end up dead like innocent Chiang Kuo-ching.
We recall also the case where an innocent man was wrongly executed, whereby in January 2011, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice admitted that Chiang Kuo-ching, a private in the Air Force, had been executed in error in 1997 for a murder committed 15 years previously.
We reiterate that the risk that an innocent man may be executed is very real, and history has shown us that mistakes do happen, and this only should be sufficient reason why the death penalty need to be abolished.
We add that on December 18, 2014, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) reaffirmed for the fifth time since 2007 the call for a stop of all executions. In 2014, 117 nation States voted in favour, 38 against, 34 abstention with 4 absentees. Every time the said resolution had been adopted, the number of votes in favour has been increasing. The global trend continues to be for abolition.
The global trend is for abolition, and Taiwan, even though it is not yet a recognized member of the United Nations, Taiwan should also adhere to this UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution
ADPAN calls on Taiwan to abolish the death penalty, and impose a moratorium on all executions pending abolition. The death sentence of all on death row inmates should be commuted.
For and on behalf of
ADPAN(Anti Death Penalty Asia Network)
there has been some amendments to the first issued statement to correct some errors.