British Office Taipei calls for Taiwan to end death penalty - Focus Taiwan

British Office Taipei calls for Taiwan to end death penalty

Catherine Nettleton (left) and Saul Lehrfreund (right)
Catherine Nettleton (left) and Saul Lehrfreund (right)

Taipei, March 18 (CNA) The British Office Taipei, which maintains and develops relations between the United Kingdom and Taiwan, called on Monday for Taiwan to abolish the death penalty on the basis of human rights.

Capital punishment should not exist in a democratic society where human rights are respected, according to the U.K.'s representative to Taiwan Catherine Nettleton.

Speaking at a press conference in Taipei to discuss the reports "For or against abolition of the death penalty: Evidence from Taiwan," and "Unsafe convictions in capital cases in Taiwan" released Sunday, Nettleton said in the mind of the British, the "death penalty" is no longer an option.

The reports were jointly compiled by the London-based Death Penalty Project (DPP) and Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP), which revealed concerns over the administration of criminal justice in Taiwan.

They also demonstrated evidence that the death penalty may be enforced improperly, resulting in the risk of unsafe or wrongful convictions.

Saul Lehrfreund, executive director of the penalty project, said the reports were compiled to "stimulate a more informed discourse by challenging previous perceptions about Taiwanese public opinion on this subject, and hopefully, to remove one of the main barriers to progress towards the goal of abolition."

The report on whether Taiwanese are for or against the death penalty was based on a survey of 2,039 face-to-face interviews, which found that more than 80 percent of respondents remained opposed to abolishing the death penalty, consistent with past surveys in Taiwan.

On the question of abolishing capital punishment and replacing it with life imprisonment without parole, however, there was more support, though the results depended on when the question was asked in the lengthy survey of over 100 questions.

Among the respondents who answered the question at the beginning of the survey, only 34 percent backed replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole, compared to 63 percent against.

But when the question appeared near the end of the survey after several other questions had forced respondents to think about the issue and consider its complexities, opposition to abolition of the death penalty fell slightly.

In that case, nearly half (48 percent for vs. 49 percent against) backed the idea of life imprisonment without parole instead of the death penalty.

TAEDP head Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡) urged the government not to use so-called "public opinion" as an excuse to maintain the capital punishment system in Taiwan, because based on the survey when people learned about other alternatives to the death penalty, their support for the death penalty fell.

Nettleton argued that the death penalty should not continue to exist in a democracy such as Taiwan, where human rights are respected within all levels of society.

(By Chen Chun-hua and Ko Lin)


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