“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

EU calls on Taiwan to stop use of death penalty

EU flag
The European Union (EU) has called on Taiwan to introduce a temporary moratorium on the death penalty after a bilateral meeting on human rights in Brussels on Tuesday.

The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU's diplomatic service, said in a statement after the second annual EU-Taiwan Human Rights Consultations that the EU and Taiwan share democratic values and a respect for human rights and the rule of law but the death penalty remains problematic.

"The EU commended Taiwan for recent developments on human rights. The EU called upon the Taiwanese authorities to apply and maintain a de facto moratorium in relation to the death penalty in Taiwan," the statement said.

"The EU regretted the resumption of executions in Taiwan in 2018 and reiterated its long-standing position that the death penalty has no deterrent effect and is an inhumane form of punishment that cannot be reversed."

The EU added that Taiwan stated its position on the death penalty issue, without divulging what that was.

The death penalty remains legal in Taiwan and is supported by the vast majority of the population, up to 80 % according to some polls, but outside human rights groups have continued to urge Taiwan to ban the practice.

Taiwan most recently executed a death-row inmate on Aug. 31, 2018, the 1st execution carried out under President Tsai Ing-wen's government, which took office in May 2016.

During the meeting, Taiwan and the EU also discussed the situation of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese activist who is serving a jail term in China for "subverting state power" after promoting democracy in group messaging chats.

The EU, meanwhile, also highlighted Taiwan's achievements in incorporating the provisions of United Nations human rights conventions but called on Taiwan to better incorporate those provisions in its legal system and establish a human rights action plan.

Migrant workers' rights, especially in the fishing industry, were discussed as well, with the EU underlining the need to effectively ensure that migrant workers are fully protected against discrimination, abuse or exploitation, the statement said.

During the discussions, the EU and Taiwan updated each other on respective policies on LGBT and gender equality, and brought up for the first time indigenous people's rights.

Taiwan and the EU agreed to hold the annual consultations in Taipei next year and maintain close cooperation on the topics raised this year, the statement said.

Source: focustaiwan.tw, Staff, May 15, 2019

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