The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) carried out six executions Friday evening in response to public outcry after the murder of an 8-year-old schoolgirl in Taipei one week ago. The inmates included Tsao Tien-shou, Wang Hsiu-fang, Cheng Chin-wen, Huang Chu-wang, Wang Chun-chin, and Wang Yu-long. A last-minute stay of execution motion filed by Huang was denied.
Yesterday's executions were carried out in locations in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung. The situation was similar to the ministry's reaction when a man slit the throat of a young boy in 2012. The MOJ responded to the public uproar within three weeks, carrying out six executions.
The number of executions in Taiwan has risen sharply after Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay assumed her post in 2013. In 2014, she approved five executions. Following yesterday's executions, 42 inmates remain on death row in prisons throughout Taiwan.
From 2006 to 2010, a 52-month moratorium on capital punishment existed as successive heads of the MOJ publicly supported the end of the death penalty in Taiwan.
Wang Ching-feng, the first justice minister appointed by President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008 and an advocate of ending the death penalty was forced to resign after social protests orchestrated by entertainer Pai Ping-ping, whose daughter was murdered in 1997, stirred public resentment.
Wang was forced to resign in 2010, with her successor continuing capital punishment one month into his term.
Ma Trying to Divert Public Attention: Anti-death Penalty Group
After the executions, Kuomintang Legislator Tsai Chin-lung remarked that "justice has been served." Civil organisations against the death penalty rebuked the government for its actions, with one organisation calling it "evil."
The Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty published a statement Wednesday accusing the Ma administration of using the death penalty to divert attention from other issues.
The organisation accused Ma of "using the fresh blood of the executed as a sacrificial offering for popular support." For instance, it cited April 19, 2013 as an example, as six executions were carried out on the same day.
It was also the same day that former President Chen Shui-bian was transferred to Taichung Prison's Pei-de Hospital and the Legislative Yuan was deliberating whether a referendum should be held regarding the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
Capital punishment is widely supported by Taiwan's public, with opinion polls usually showing around 80-per cent support for the retention of the death penalty. In Asia, Taiwan joins China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam among others in retaining the death penalty.