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TAIWAN: Open letter on death penalty in Taiwan

18 Mar 2010
Region: TAIWAN
Topic: Abolition of the Death Penalty
18 March 2010

President of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Ma Ying-jeou
Office of the President
No. 122, Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd
Zhongzheng District
Taipei City 100
Taiwan (R.O.C)

Your Excellency

Amnesty International has noted the recent debate on the death penalty
sparked by former Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng's open support
for a moratorium on executions and her subsequent resignation.
We write
to ask you to ensure that Taiwan remains firm in reaching for its stated
goal of abolition of the death penalty.

We welcomed the assurances you gave us and other groups at our meeting
on 18 June 2008, that Taiwan's de facto moratorium would remain in place.
We urge you not to waiver from this stance. The lives of the 44 inmates
on death row must not be compromised because of the current political
controversy.

We look to Taiwan as a leader in the region on progress toward abolition.
We hope that Taiwan's support for a moratorium, along with Mongolia's,
where President Elbegdorj formally announced a moratorium in January
2010, will influence the governments of Japan and the People's Republic
of China to take similar steps themselves.

As you stated during your meeting with the Prosecutors' Association on
15 March 2010, Taiwan must increase the public debate and education about
the death penalty. We see the public attention surrounding the nomination
of a new Minister of Justice as an opportunity to highlight the death
penalty as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, one that
runs the risk of irrevocable error, fails to provide restorative justice
to victims' families, and has not been proven to have any special deterrent
effect. The current public debate presents an opportunity to promote the
global trend towards abolition, as now more than two-thirds of the countries
of the world have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, and
to urge public support to this trend ahead of the United Nations General
Assembly vote on a global moratorium scheduled for December 2010.

In a time of heightened political debate, we urge you to demonstrate
leadership and continue on the path toward abolition.

Yours sincerely
Claudio Cordone
Secretary General (ad interim)

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