Taiwan: Second execution under President Tsai Ing-wen, a disgraceful setback to human rights
2 April 2020
Taiwan executed its second death row prisoner under President Tsai Ing-wen on 1 April. The one-man shooting execution took an hour because the prisoner refused to cooperate.
“The fact that the authorities carried out this execution on the same day they received global praise for donating 10 million masks to help fight COVID-19 in Europe and the USA exposes a cynical attempt to bury bad news,” said E-Ling Chiu, Director of Amnesty International Taiwan.
Mr. Weng Jen-hsien (翁仁賢), a 53-year-old man, was sentenced to death in February 2019 and was executed at 9pm yesterday, the day before the Tomb Sweeping festival holiday. Weng Jen-hsien was sentenced to death four times for setting fire and causing the deaths of five of his relatives and one caregiver during a Lunar New Year’s Eve gathering in 2016. According to the mental disability assessment of Mr. Weng, he had been isolating himself from society and found it difficult to have normal or positive interactions with others.
The case was also mentioned by the Prime Minister of Executive Yuan, who said that “Mr. Weng's case was the most unacceptable and serious crime which fit the category of article 6 of ICCPR.”
“However, it's the same article of the ICCPR(article 6.6) prohibits invoking any of its provisions to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment. It's very disappointing that the Taiwanese government says its death penalty policy is towards abolition and then keeps carrying out executions” reposnded by E-Ling Chiu.
The execution seems a response to a high-profile murder case in March, which prompted criticism of abolition. During March, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty faced a lot of cyberbullying after the murder happened.
“The Taiwanese government hasn’t done much on social education or dialogue on death penalty issues, so we keep seeing cyberbullying of human rights NGOs or to the victims’ family members who don’t show strong support to the death penalty,“ said E-Ling Chiu.
“Whenever any murder cases happen, society keeps attacking NGOs who support abolition and human rights, rather than asking the government about the lack of social safety net or other related support systems for the people who may need help.
“Due to its lack of clear and effective strategy and plan , there’s no further progress to abolition, the Taiwanese government should promote human rights education and encourage the positive dialogue between different opinions.
“The dominant discourse of support for executions hasn’t prevented any crimes. The cyberbullying phenomenon against people who do not support the death penalty is not only bad for abolition, it is also damaging to freedom of expression and the civic space.”
The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment. Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception - regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.
Amnesty International renews its calls on the government of Taiwan to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards full abolition of the death penalty.