17 October 2007 :South Korea will be declared as having abolished the death penalty "in practice" by Amnesty International at the end of this year, a civic group said.
December 29 will mark the 10th year since Korea carried out its last execution, meeting the requirement to be named an "abolitionist in practice," anti-capital punishment campaigners said in a statement.
The group held a ceremony in Seoul to mark the fourth World Day Against the Death Penalty. Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, former President Kim Dae-jung, and other leading figures participated in the event. Korea retains the death penalty but no death sentences have been carried out since 1998. Sixty-four criminals remained on death row as of early this year.
Civic, religious and political groups have been actively campaigning against the death penalty in Korea. In late 2004, 175 lawmakers endorsed a bill to abolish the death penalty in favour of life imprisonment without parole but the discussions petered out. The Supreme Court ruled consecutively in 1969 and 1987 that capital punishment is constitutional. In 1995, the Constitutional Court upheld the rulings.