Politicians and officials wade into the death penalty debate

Politicians and officials wade into the death penalty debate
Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), speaking during a press conference in Taipei.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay stated on Tuesday that there have been no discussions about overturning the nation's capital punishment laws as public anger swells following the brutal schoolyard killing of an 8-year-old girl last Friday by confessed 29-year-old suspect Kung Chung-an.

Luo made the comments to the press after attending a swearing-in ceremony for officials at the Agency of Corrections under the Ministry of Justice. She said that she believes that most people in the country felt great indignation after the schoolgirl's death, finding Kung's actions despicable.

While she said it was inappropriate for her to state her position on the case itself in her official capacity, Luo believed that "everyone is probably feeling the same way."

The justice minister expressed concern that the current pace in the administering of capital punishment was not rendering it an effective approach to deterring violent crime.

Social Consensus Needed on Death Penalty: Tsai

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman and 2016 presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, who is touring the United States, said that a "social consensus" was needed on the matter of abolishing capital punishment in Taiwan.

Tsai also claimed that her position on the death penalty and the requirement of a social consensus were consistent with her past position on the matter. Asked if she supported abolishing the death penalty, Tsai replied by saying that certain conditions within society had to be ripe, and other observations had to be taken into accound as well.

Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu asked Tsai to be more forthcoming about her position, asking: "under the current tragic situation, do you still support abolishing the death penalty?" Speaking at the Legislative Yuan, Hung implored Tsai to consider the anger of Taiwanese society, asking whether she could feel the pain of the victim's family.

KMT Politicians Reject Abrogation of Current Policy

KMT Chairman Eric Chu stated during a city council session in New Taipei that his position on the death penalty is clear, namely that Taiwan "does not have the requirements" to abolish it. Chu however also stressed there was much room for improvement in creating measures to deter crimes.

Meanwhile, KMT Lawmaker Wu Yu-sheng argued in a press conference held at the Legislative Yuan yesterday that the judicial system was not doing enough to expedite sentences.

He pointed out that Taiwan has 48 inmates on death row, with some prisoners having stayed their execution for 14 years. Wu urged that "loopholes" within the judicial system be eliminated in a draft law that would prohibit legal appeals from those who "show no obvious reason to (appeal)."

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