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Taiwan

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNS ´CRUEL OUTRAGE´ OF TAIWAN´S DEATH ROW

Updated: July 29, 1993 05:00 PM GMT
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Amnesty International (AI), a vocal opponent of capital punishment, has particularly condemned Taiwan´s shackling of condemned prisoners and use of executed prisoners´ organs.

AI, a London-based human rights monitor, reported that prisoners in special "death row" cells in Taiwan spend months with their feet permanently shackled.

"The death penalty violates the most fundamental right of all -- the right of life. To further punish prisoners who are waiting to die by shackling them is a cruel outrage," an AI statement maintained.

Taiwan´s policy of "harvesting" of organs from executed prisoners, AI continued, creates a "moral quagmire" as the timing of executions could be influenced by the need of organs.

The report also expressed concern over executions being carried out through the use of lethal injection administered by medical personnel. It says this is a "radical misuse of medical skills."

Finally, AI urges the Taiwan government to abolish the death penalty unconditionally, and stop carrying out any executions and commute all death sentences until this is done.

In a response July 22, Taipei´s Ministry of Justice defended the shackling of condemned prisoners´ feet to prevent suicides or escape attempts.

The ministry´s vice minister, Lin Hsi-hu, denied AI´s charge that prisoners were "left to rot" until they were executed and noted that any donation of a prisoner´s organ was done with the inmate´s consent.

Lin did say, though, that Taiwan was moving away from using lethal injections as a form of execution to avoid putting doctors in moral conflict with their "Hippocratic oath," which binds them to preserve life.

According to the records of the ministry, there were 35 executions in the country in 1992, 59 in 1991, 78 in 1990, 69 in 1989 and 22 in 1988.

On May 25, representatives of AI Taipei Group I visited the federal Legislative Yuan branch office, the Ministry of Justice and the president´s office to advocate the abolition of capital punishment.

The Ministry of Justice replied that the death penalty is necessary in light of rising social disorder, with criminal cases having jumped from 170,347 cases in 1991 to 208,963 cases in 1992.

Since the lifting of martial law in 1987, Churches and human rights institutions have become more outspoken against the death penalty.

END

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