Human rights experts to visit Taiwan despite executions: MOJ

Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) A group of nine international human rights experts will visit Taiwan in February as planned despite their disagreement with Taiwan over the death penalty issue, a Ministry of Justice official said Wednesday. The experts reconfirmed their intention to visit Taiwan in a letter to the ministry Monday, said Peng Kun-yeh, head of the ministry's Department of Legal System. In the letter, the experts also expressed their regret over the execution of six death row inmates in Taiwan on Dec. 21 and said they will continue to pay attention to Taiwan's human rights situation, Peng said. The main purpose of the visit will be to review Taiwan's first human rights report on the implementation of two United Nations covenants -- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Two of the experts -- 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 -- wrote to President Ma Ying-jeou last month asking him to guarantee that no executions would be carried out before their planned visit. In light of concerns that the experts might cancel their trip following the executions, Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu explained to the nine experts in a letter Dec. 22 that the executions were carried out in accordance with the law and that the death penalty is widely supported in Taiwan. (By Tsai Pei-chi and Y.F. Low)