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Envoys to communicate over death penalty

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government will continue to communicate with foreign countries on the use of capital punishment in Taiwan, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday, one day after Taiwan executed five death row inmates.

Responding to criticism by several European countries on Taiwan's use of capital punishment, Lin said his ministry has asked its overseas representative offices to explain the government's stance to foreign governments.

The minister said it is true that Taiwan's ultimate goal is to abolish capital punishment.

Lin explained, however, that Tuesday's executions were carried out by justice officials in accordance with the law, stressing that the R.O.C. is a country that upholds the rule of law.

Taiwan has initiated several judicial reforms to ensure more caution when handing out the death penalty, the minister said, adding that the government has also been cutting down on the frequency of carrying out executions.

These initiatives are concrete moves that show Taiwan's determination to move toward abolishing capital punishment, he said.

The minister also said he believes the execution issue will not affect Taiwan's relationship with European countries.

Meanwhile, during a Legislative Yuan committee meeting yesterday, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) urged the Foreign Ministry to hold an international press conference and explain to the world Taiwan's stance on capital punishment.

Tsai said a majority in Taiwan believe that the death penalty should not be abolished.

The ministry needs to explain to the world that carrying out executions is supported by the Taiwanese public, or else the international community may cast doubt over Taiwan's human rights conditions, the lawmaker added.

The Ministry of Justice announced late Tuesday that executions of five death row inmates, the nation's first executions of the year, had been carried in prisons in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Hualien at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The five inmates were Teng Kuo-liang (鄧國樑), Tu Ming-hsiung (杜明雄), Tu Ming-lang (杜明郎), Liu Yang-kuo (劉炎國) and Tai Wen-ching (戴文慶), the ministry said.

The five inmates were found guilty of 11 separate murders, the ministry added.

EU, UK's Response

Following the executions, the United Kingdom and the European Union expressed their concerns.

In a released statement, the UK's Foreign Office said on April 29 that the UK is disappointed that Taiwan has not followed its declared intention to progress toward the abolition of the death penalty and elevate its human rights policies to international standards.

The European Economic and Trade Office, which represents the EU in Taiwan, said on its Facebook page that the EU is opposed the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.

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