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Execution of death sentence has no timetable: justice ministry

2012/12/08 21:54:09

Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) The Ministry of Justice said Saturday that while it will respect a goodwill appeal from international experts, there is no timetable for the execution of death row inmates.

Deputy Justice Minister Chen Shou-huang said the ministry will act in accordance with the law and take into consideration the nation's best interests in dealing with the issue.

"The ministry will definitely carry out capital punishment, but we have no timetable for doing so," he reiterated.

He also said the Presidential Office has issued no special instructions on the execution of death row convicts.

His remarks came amid local media reports that two experts invited to review Taiwan's first human rights report based on U.N. covenants jointly sent a letter last month to President Ma Ying-jeou in which they asked him to guarantee that no executions will be carried out before they make a visit scheduled for February.

The two -- Manfred Nowak, a professor at the University of Vienna and Eibe Riedel, a member of the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights -- had reportedly received information from a Taiwanese civic group that the ministry could execute inmates in the near future.

Upon receiving the letter, the Presidential Office asked the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to "deal with the matter cautiously and appropriately," according to the local media.

Taiwan signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2009 and passed them into law in 2011.

Taiwan's first human rights report was released in April this year. Under normal circumstances, it would be sent to the U.N. for screening, but as Taiwan is not a U.N. member, the government has adopted a suggestion by Covenants Watch, a local civic group, to allow an international review in the spirit of the covenants.

To this end, Taiwan has invited legal experts from the United States, Austria, Germany and Japan to visit Taiwan early next year.

(By Tsai Pei-chi and Lilian Wu)