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September 26, 2017

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Justice Minister urged to carry out executions of 45 death-row inmates

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang lawmaker Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) yesterday urged Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) to immediately carry out executions of 45 death-row inmates "who are not seeking judicial remedies." Luo responded, saying that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) will go through the "necessary procedures" carefully and with caution.

During an interpellation at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Wu said Taiwan has 52 convicts on death row, noting that apart from seven inmates who are currently undergoing the appeals process, one of the remaining 45 death-row prisoners has awaited execution for over 10 years.

Wu questioned, if 45 death-row prisoners are not seeking judicial relief, why does the government stall the executions? He went on to say that he is a religious person, adding that he also "holds incense sticks and prays" and it is a hard request to make to Luo, but the government has to act in accordance with the law.

Luo Agrees to Give Order

In response, Luo said she would initiate the required procedures and give the appropriate orders, noting that the MOJ still has to handle the matter in an extremely careful manner.

She said that since taking office she has been reviewing all death-row inmates' current legal statuses one by one to see if anyone is in the appeals process or even if there are constitutional issues involved. "It's not like we don't carry out the death penalty, but we have to be certain about every execution," Luo added.

Wu said former Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) refused to carry out executions and resigned from her position as a result, noting that Wang's successor Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) gave orders to execute 21 convicts during his term.

Wu said if Luo refuses to give the orders, then she should step down like Wang did, or else he will go to the Control Yuan and request Luo's impeachment after the interpellation.

"I cannot stand hearing rumors about gangsters, saying that even if these people do something bad, they will not be sentenced to death," Wu said, urging the government to ignore the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty's (廢除死刑推動聯盟) demand and act in accordance with the law.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said the Executive Yuan stands alongside the MOJ regarding the issue, noting that as the country still has the death penalty, if the MOJ is certain that a death-row inmate sought every possible judicial remedy and was still sentenced to death, the ministry should carry out the executions when it is time.

As for what day or who should be executed first, the Executive Yuan will not interfere with the MOJ's jurisdiction to make such decisions, Jiang added.

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