TAIWAN: PRESIDENT FAILS TO SUPPORT JUSTICE MINISTER ON ABOLITION DEATH PENALTY
March 11, 2010: Legal amendments were necessary to cut the number of executions, but Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng should adhere to the law, the Presidential Office said in a statement about the controversy enveloping the minister.
Media interpreted the presidential comments as a move against Wang amid a barrage of criticism over her refusal to approve the execution of any of the countryâ€™s 44 death row convicts.
In a statement, she said sheâ€™d rather resign than have even one of the prisoners executed.
Presidential spokesman Lo Chih-chiang read a statement emphasizing the rule of law, implying Wang could not refuse to sign orders to execute convicts already sentenced to death. Lawmakers have accused Wang of breaking the law by not going ahead with executions.
Lo said that because there was no consensus in the country, there could not be a decision at present to do away with capital punishment.
The comments by the Presidential Office followed calls for Wangâ€™s immediate resignation or dismissal by lawmakers and by relatives of murder victims.
At a news conference Thursday morning, they accused the minister of being unfit to serve.
Wang stood her ground, saying the case would become an international laughing stock if she was forced to resign for her opposition to capital punishment.
â€śThere is no justice minister in any country in the world who ever resigned over delaying executions of wanting to abolish the death penalty,â€ť she said.
â€śDespite all the pressure, I will still go ahead and do the right thing,â€ť she said, adding it was not important whether she would lose her Cabinet job or not.
Wang has defended her stance by saying capital punishment went against the right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Cabinet spokesman Johnny Chiang said Wangâ€™s personal opinion would be respected. The government would discuss all options but not take a decision until a consensus had been reached, he said. (Sources: Taiwan News, 11/03/2010)