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September 22, 2017

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EU expresses regret over Taiwan death penalty following executions

TAIPEI -- The European Union expressed regret over Taiwan's execution of five death row inmates earlier this week and called on an immediate moratorium on executions.

"I regret the latest set of five executions which took place in Taiwan on 29 April 2014," Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, said in a statement seen in Taipei early Thursday.

"I recognize the sufferings of the victims of the crimes involved, and express my sincere sympathy to their families. However, capital punishment can never be justified. The European Union opposes capital punishment under all circumstances and calls for its universal abolition," she said.

"I call on the authorities in Taiwan to introduce an immediate moratorium on executions as recommended by international experts in March 2013, following Taiwan's first human rights report," Ashton said.

The five inmates killed two days earlier were found guilty of a total of 11 murders, Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang said in an announcement following the executions.

Chen maintained Taiwan's stance on keeping the death penalty but reducing its frequency of use, citing the Ministry of Justice's efforts to review relevant laws.

The number of death row inmates in Taiwan now stands at 47 after the executions, including two whose cases are being retried. The last executions took place on April 19, 2013, when six violent criminals were killed.

The Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty brought around 40 people to a small rally in front of the Ministry of Justice building shortly after the executions took place, where they criticized what they described as executions carried out to win support at a time of low government approval ratings.

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