20140605PressRelease|The Death Penalty in Taiwan: A Report on Taiwan’s Legal Obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The Death Penalty in Taiwan: A Report on Taiwan’s Legal Obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


The Death Penalty in Taiwan: A Report on Taiwan’s Legal Obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was written and published in association with the London-based Death Penalty Project (DPP) and Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP). This present report is the third death penalty report published by the DPP in Asia (the reports on the death penalty in Japan and Malaysia were published in 2013), which demonstrates that the international community attached great importance to the human rights situation in Asia and Taiwan. 

A press conference on “The Death Penalty in Taiwan” was held at 10:00 AM on June 5th at the National Taiwan University Alumni Club, which was moderated by the Executive Director of TAEDP, Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡), Saul Lehrfreund, the Co-Executive Director of the DPP, and Chang Wen-chen (張文貞), Professor of the College of Law, National Taiwan University (NTU), which presented the findings of this report. Other participants included legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), Kao Jung-chi (高榮志), the Executive Director of Judicial Reform Foundation, and Chris Wood, Director of British Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan. 

Quoting from the Introduction of the report, “In a sentence, the present report suggests that Taiwan is failing to comply with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The greatest mistake that a criminal justice system can make is the wrongful execution of an innocent person.” 

The Minister of Justice, Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪), signed the controversial death warrant on April 29th this year. Among those who were executed, the Du Brothers (杜氏兄弟) were highly likely to be wrongfully executed, and there were obvious flaws in the execution procedures of the capital punishment of Liu Yen-guo (劉炎國). Members of the Control Yuan have already launched an investigation. It is therefore extremely timely to publish The Death Penalty in Taiwan. The Government of Taiwan has to reflect on its obligation after ratifying the ICCPR as a matter of domestic law. Ratifying the ICCPR does not mean that the government is to abolish capital punishment immediately, but it does mean that the government should set abolition as its ultimate goal. As a result, Taiwan is obliged to observe its related domestic laws and implementation standards and actively restrict the use of capital punishment.

The Death Penalty in Taiwan is a six part report consisting of an introduction to the ICCPR and the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, the right to life, the prohibition of torture and related ill-treatment, pre-trial rights, minimum fair trial guarantees in capital cases, and conclusion and recommendations.

Reading through this report, one may be able to identify with what is stated in the foreword—“Overall, the evidence presented in this report suggests that until Taiwan can satisfy the human rights standards to which it is committed, the death penalty should not be enforced. At a minimum, Taiwan must undertake reforms to make the administration of capital punishment as fair and humane as possible. In trying to live up to its commitments under the ICCPR and other human rights instruments, Taiwan may discover that it is impossible to design a system of capital punishment that does not violate human rights. The only effective way to protect prisoners from violation of their human rights may well be the complete abolition of the death penalty.”

Between 2010-13, 21 executions were carried out in Taiwan and, most recently in April 2014, a further five people were executed. As this report highlights, there are serious concerns that the provisions of the ICCPR were not strictly adhered to in these cases. Worldwide, only 39 countries have carried out an execution since 2003, and only seven countries have executed 10 or more citizens each year for the past decade. The use of the death penalty in Taiwan is thus of great concern and sends out a message that contrasts starkly with the progressive measures it took to ratify the ICCPR.

It is the DPP and TAEDP's earnest hope that the arguments and recommendations presented in this report can help the people of Taiwan better understand the strict restrictions of the application of death penalty. It is a commendable step that Taiwan ratifies the ICCPR as a matter of domestic law. The ratification also means that Taiwan's parliament, representative of public opinion, agrees to comply with the covenant. Thus, Taiwan should take immediate action to address the problems highlighted in this report.

The published report will be sent to government officials, legislators, courts, District Prosecutors Office, and colleges of law for their reference. This report will also be made widely available to the general public. The Executive Director of DPP, Saul Lehrfreund, will present at a seminar on "The Death Penalty in Taiwan: A Report on Taiwan’s Legal Obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" at the College of Law of NTU at 18:30 on June 5th. The Tainan Group of Amnesty International Taiwan Section is also hosting a forum at Masa Loft café at 19:00 on June 6th.

Through these events, we hope that we can initiate further dialogue on the death penalty between the government and society.

The Death Penalty in Taiwan


More information:
The Death Penalty Project

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty 
[email protected]

English Report: http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/news/1750/dpp-launches-report-on-the-...
Chinese Report: http://www.taedp.org.tw/sites/default/files/taiwan_dp_report_2014.pdf