ADPAN – On the World Day Against the Death Penalty October 10, 2018

Press Statement
On the World Day Against the Death Penalty
October 10, 2018

On 10 October each year, the international community reflects on the death penalty and its futility.

This year, we also reflect on the terrible and cruel physical conditions most death penalty prisoners are forced to suffer. All prisoners on death row share the same psychological torment, as they await an unnecessary and brutal death at a pre-arranged hour, whether soon or an unknown number of days or years away.

On this World Day Against the Death Penalty, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN, a network of organizations and individuals aiming for the abolition of the Death Penalty) reaffirms its strong and unequivocal opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and for all cases. ADPAN considers the death penalty incompatible with human dignity.  The international research shows that the death penalty does not have any proven deterrent effect.  Whether used against prisoners who are powerless and poor, minorities who are marginalized, or political enemies, the death penalty brutalizes and diminishes each society which employs it.

On this day of the year, we call on the retentionist States who still regularly execute, to immediately put in place a moratorium, and to abandon this futile and cruel relic of history.

All too often, conditions for prisoners facing execution are cruel and harsh. Conditions vary around the world, but in some places, cruelties range from torture to overcrowding in filthy conditions to denial of basic rights such as regular access to lawyers or family, to being detained without hope for long periods, all too often in cramped, excessively hot or cold and inhuman conditions.

Systemic problems vary around the world, but these terrible prison conditions are too often accompanied by trials which have been unfair, in justice systems in urgent need of reform.

In Asia, there has been mixed development in the abolition movement in the last 12 months. On the one hand, we have seen the amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act in Malaysia, which the government then described as a “baby step” towards abolition. In this amendment, the presiding judge is given some discretion to impose imprisonment rather than death on a convicted drug trafficking offender if certain conditions are proven. Nevertheless, whether this amendment will save lives is yet to be seen. Indonesia is also undergoing a review of its Criminal Code where, if passed, the death penalty will no longer be a primary sentence. Korea is affirming its commitment to abolition, while Cambodia has resisted a call to reintroduce the death penalty.

On the other hand, there was also a steep increase in executions in this region. Earlier this year, Japan executed 13 people within a short span of time; Thailand executed 1 person after 9 years of moratorium; Taiwan executed 1 person without much warning; we have information that Singapore recently executed 3 people; not to mention the many executions in China and Vietnam which are so often done in secret. The Philippines is threatening to bring back the death penalty, only a delayed Senate vote is holding back the floodgates; so too, Mongolia is debating reverting back to executions.

In Pakistan, executions through special and military courts and trials have been carried out, in the face of criticism of the courts’ failures to adhere to their guarantees of fair trial and due process. In India, despite extraordinary delays and other systemic problems within the justice system, there has been a rush to calling for more and more executions, in the face of child and other rape cases. In Bangladesh, there has been an increase on death penalty conviction in recent years, totally as at September 2018, 1680 people on death row.

What these occasional executions and clamor for executions all too often show is that the death penalty is used as a tool for some other undisclosed political purpose.

However, we also note that there has been an increase in discourse and dialogue on this issue within society and among policymakers, which we view as most desirable and healthy. We, in ADPAN, place much emphasis on continued education and dialogue in an open and transparent environment. We are firmly of the view that wherever there is honest, courageous and careful study of a justice system, its flaws, its strengths, its purposes; in combination with a study of trials, acknowledging the reality everywhere of the inevitability in every system of some wrongful convictions; with honest assessments of state brutality when it occurs, together with the study of prison conditions, and other relevant matters, then the futility and unnecessary cruelty of state-sanctioned executions will become apparent.  So many countries of the world have already done this – rich and poor, of all political and religious persuasions. It is time for the remaining executing countries to do the same.

ADPAN envisions a world without the death penalty, and we start from Asia.  Asia covers a vast geographical area, diverse and rich in ethnicity and culture, with different forms of government. We understand the challenges, yet we believe that with the hard work of all stakeholders and the commitment towards humanity, this is not an impossible goal. History and the changes of the last 70 years show us that such goals are not merely dreams but can become practical realities.

Last but not least, on this 10th October, as every corner of the world commemorates the World Day Against the Death Penalty, ADPAN wish to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt appreciation to the abolition community and welcome all others to join the family as we call for the abolition of the death penalty, an end to state-sanctioned killings.

Issued by:

ADPAN Executive Committee

10 October 2018

contactadpan@gmail.com

Taiwan – First execution since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016

President Tsai’s administration carries out first death penalty

2018/08/31 21:03:52

CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) A death row inmate was executed Friday for killing his ex-wife and daughter in 2014 — the first execution since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016.

The man, identified as Lee Hung-chi (李宏基), was executed in Kaohsiung after Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥), who was sworn into office July 16, signed the order to carry out the execution Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Justice, Lee was executed because he murdered his ex-wife in a public place surrounded by witnesses and consistently displayed no remorse.

On Dec. 28, 2016, Lee was convicted by the Supreme Court of killing his ex-wife and daughter.

In April 2014, Lee went to the kingdergarten attended by his two daughters and tried to kidnap them. He was stopped by his ex-wife whom he stabbed to death outside the school after a quarrel.

Lee fled with one of his daughters and drove to Jianshih township in Hsinchu County, where he attempted to commit suicide and kill his daughter by burning charcoal in his car.

The two were later discovered by local police who rushed them to hospital. Lee survived the suicide attempt but his daughter did not.

The last execution carried out in Taiwan was on May 10, 2016, in which spree killer Cheng Jie (鄭捷) was executed for killing four and injuring 24 on a Taipei metro train in 2014.

Currently, 42 inmates remain on death row in Taiwan.

(By Hsiao Po-wen and Flor Wang)
Enditem/AW – Focus Taiwan, 31/8/2018

 

Human rights groups condemn political use of capital punishment

2018/08/31 21:54:53

Photo courtesy of Taiwan Association for Human Rights

Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) Human rights groups on Friday condemned the execution of a death row inmate, alleging it was timed to boost the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) chances in the nine-in-one local government elections on Nov. 24.

Lee Hung-chi (李宏基), who was sentenced to death in 2016 for stabbing to death his ex-wife and later killing his daughter as part of a murder-suicide by burning charcoal in his car in April 2014, was put to death at 3:37 p.m. Friday, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) confirmed.

Lee was the first death row inmate to be executed since the DPP assumed office on May 20, 2016, following the execution on May 10, 2016 of Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) who killed four people and injured 24 in a knife attack on a Taipei Metro train in May 2014.

Activists representing human rights groups scheduled a press conference at 6p.m. in front of the MOJ in protest, holding placards that read “killing for votes.”

“Why did the DPP government chose to enforce an execution now, two or three months away from the elections?” asked Chiu E-ling (邱伊翎), secretary-general of Taiwan Association for Human Rights. “They were aiming at getting more votes.”

The DPP flies in the face of covenants upheld by the United Nations and international human rights organizations that the issue of capital punishment should not be used for political purposes or electoral gain, Chiu said.

“How is the DPP different from the Kuomintang (KMT),” Chiu said. “Does the DPP truly believe in the universal value of abolishing the death penalty?”

During the previous KMT administration from 2008-2016, former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) broke the moratorium Taiwan observed from 2006-2009, carrying out 33 executions, several of which were criticized for being timed to gain political leverage.

The DPP has recently supported the abolition of the death penalty. Point 26 of the DPP Action Plan adopted in 1999 said the party would “respect life, prevent miscarriages of justice and search for ways to end the use of capital punishment.”

However, in the previous DPP administration under former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) from 2000-2008, 32 death row inmates were executed before he introduced the moratorium in 2006.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has avoided taking a position on the issue since she assumed office, except her remarks in July that the death penalty remains on the books and that the MOJ would decide under what circumstances an execution could be carried out.

During the presidential election campaign in 2015, Tsai said that abolition of the death penalty is contingent on whether the country has reached a consensus on the issue and alternative measures are in place.

Head of Covenants Watch Huang Song-lih (黃嵩立) told the press conference that the DPP administration “made an erroneous decision” to carry out the execution.

“President Tsai has repeatedly declared that human rights are the principle on which her governance is based,” Huang said. “But the execution demonstrates that her administration has reneged on its promise to gradually move the country toward abolition.”

In late July, soon after taking office, Justice Minister Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said that the government’s policy to gradually move toward abolition of the death penalty remains unchanged.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
Enditem/AW – Focus Taiwan, 31/8/2018

EU expresses dismay at execution of Lee Hung-chi

Staff writer, with CNA
The EU on Friday expressed opposition to capital punishment after the first execution under President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration, saying that Taiwan should immediately reintroduce a moratorium on the death penalty.

Lee Hung-chi (李宏基), 39, who was convicted of murder in 2014, was executed in Kaohsiung on Friday.

Lee was initially sentenced to life imprisonment by the Kaohsiung District Court for stabbing his ex-wife to death and killing his daughter by carbon monoxide poisoning in April 2014.

The High Court later changed the punishment to the death sentence and that ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2016.

In a statement released in Brussels, the EU expressed its sincere sympathy to the family and friends of the people Lee killed.

Separately, Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson for the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic service, said that the EU is unequivocally opposed to capital punishment.

“The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity,” Kocijancic said.

At the first EU-Taiwan Human Rights Consultations in Taipei in March, participants discussed the merits of holding a broad public debate regarding capital punishment, taking into account its decline worldwide and accelerating the work of the task force on the death penalty in Taiwan, Kocijancic said.

In addition to these measures, the EU looks to Taiwan’s authorities to immediately reintroduce a moratorium on the death penalty, as recommended by international experts in March 2013, as a first step to its total abolition, she said. – Taipei Times, 2/9/2018

 

 

India – Death Penalty for Rape of Girl below 12 years approved by President

Law Allowing Death Penalty For Rape Of Children Cleared By President

The Home Ministry drafted Criminal Law (Amendment) Act stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years.