President Chen Shui-bian on October 15 met with World Coalition Against the Death Penalty Founder Mario Marazziti and a delegation from the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty at the Presidential Office. The president expressed his admiration on behalf of the government and people of the ROC (Taiwan) to the guests for their efforts and contributions in abolishing the death penalty around the world. He also lauded the efforts by members of the local organization to end the death penalty here.
President Chen said that the global movement launched by Mr. Marazziti to end the death penalty has had an impact throughout the world. He added that the Council of the European Union this year passed a resolution to submit a motion to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly calling for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death penalty. If the motion is passed, President Chen said that it would mark a great victory for the movement against the death penalty. President Chen also said that thanks to the efforts by many people, the movement against the death penalty, both on Taiwan and throughout the world, has made notable achievements. Presently, over 130 countries throughout the world have ended the death penalty through enacting laws mandating such or taking other substantive measures. In other words, he said, two-thirds of UN member countries have already abolished the death penalty.
President Chen furthermore said that since he took office in 2000, he has worked to create a nation that is based on human rights. He believes that human rights are a universal value and standard, and that Taiwan is no exception to this standard. He said he hopes to realize the abolition of the death penalty here as soon as possible.
President Chen said former Justice Minister Chen Ding-nan during his tenure in office stated that the government would issue a human rights basic law that would incorporate the concept of abolishing the death penalty. The president said opinion polls have shown that if complementary measures were passed in conjunction with the abolition of the death penalty, 40% of the public would support the end to capital punishment. He said the government is now amending laws to change absolute capital punishment to relative capital punishment. These amendments call for replacing death sentences with longer prison sentences, life sentences without possibility of parole or higher thresholds for parole. The measures began to be implemented last year, enabling a gradual movement toward abolishing capital punishment. Since the beginning of last year, Taiwan has not executed any prisoner, which is a reflection of the global movement to abolish the death penalty, he said.
Mr. Marazziti expressed his admiration of President Chen for the contributions he has made to democracy and the human rights movement on Taiwan. He also shared with the president the origins and history of his efforts in abolishing the death penalty. He said that even though Taiwan is not a member of the UN, a movement by the government here to abolish capital punishment carries great significance. Mr. Marazziti said he hopes the president will continue to support the movement to end the death penalty, enabling Taiwan to reach this goal at the earliest possible time.