Chen Chu calls for prudence over practice of death penalty in Taiwan

Debate on capital punishment has been re-ignited and is now an election issue after a number of brutal murders occurred over the past two months

Secretary-General to the Presidential Office Chen Chu

Secretary-General to the Presidential Office Chen Chu (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Whether or not the Taiwanese authorities should execute those who are sentenced to death has been hotly debated over the past couple of months, due partly to a number of brutal murders that occurred during May and June. Now the death penalty even looks to become an election issue leading up to November.

Asked to comment on the fact that there have not been any executions in Taiwan for more than two years, Chen Chu (陳菊), secretary-general to the Presidential Office and a key member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Saturday the authorities remain prudent in regards to the issue of capital punishment.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is exercising prudence over the issue, said Chen Saturday morning at a farmers’ market held at the Presidential Office. “In terms of carrying out the death penalty, it requires a broad societal consensus.”

“After all, we all only live once,” added Chen, even though some of her party members seem to hold a different view. A DDP member suggested to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during a party committee this week that the government should impose the death penalty, as he believes that it accords with the greater sentiment of the Taiwanese people, reported Central News Agency.

Earlier polls show that about 80 percent of the Taiwanese people support the death penalty. However, when law stipulates a punishment of life imprisonment for who commit serious crimes, without the possibility for parole, the percentage of those in support of the death penalty shrinks to lower than 50 percent.

According to MOJ, there are currently 43 people on death row in Taiwan. After the execution of Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), who randomly attacked passengers on the Taipei Metro in May 2014, killing four people and injuring dozens, was executed in May 2016, the ministry, under the Tsai administration has not signed any further execution orders.

Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂), MOJ’s deputy minister, told United Daily News that the ministry will neither abolish nor completely refrain from exercising capital punishment. But it will make decision with utmost prudence, said Chen.