Taiwan's representative to France has accepted 106,000 signatures from French people urging Taiwan to retry a death-row convict and suspend executions as the 1st step toward abolition of the death penalty.
Michel Lu accepted the signatures from Genevieve Garrigos, head of the French chapter of Amnesty International (AI), at Taiwan's representative office in Paris Thursday.
AI, a non-government human rights organization, has been watching developments in the campaign for Taiwan to abrogate capital punishment since last December.
The London-headquartered NGO has also mobilized its members to write to President Ma Ying-jeou and Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu, urging a retrial of death-row inmate Chiu Ho-shun and a suspension of executions.
During his meeting with Lu, Garrigos reiterated AI's stance and its expectations of Taiwan eventually abolishing the death penalty.
As to the Chiu case, Lu denied AI's allegations that Chiu was tortured into confessing to a crime and that the two prosecutors and 10 police officers investigating the case have since been impeached.
Lu also told Garrigos that Taiwan's government has promoted public debate on whether the death penalty should be phased out.
In line with traditional Chinese thinking that those who commit crime should be punished, Lu said, up to 76.7 % of Taiwan's people are still opposed to abrogation of capital punishment, a sentiment that is clear from the results of a series of public opinion polls.
As Taiwan is a country that upholds rule of law, its government must execute the death penalty in accordance with the law before such a penalty is abolished, Lu said.
Nevertheless, he went on, the government respects AI's stance and its appeals and is more than willing to continue dialogue with its representatives to boost mutual understanding.
In response, Garrigos expressed gratitude for Lu's explanations, but reaffirmed AI's hope that Taiwan will suspend executions pending eventual abrogation of the penalty.
Garrigos said AI would like to provide more data to prove that crime rates in countries that have abolished capital punishment have not risen in the wake of the abrogation and that she is willing to travel to Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan, Feb. 16, 2013