Metro killer Cheng Chieh was executed last night. Per standard practice, neither his family nor lawyers were informed until after the sentence was carried out. Cheng’s lawyers have criticized the timing, as the Ministry of Justice decided to sign the execution warrant the same day the final verdict dossier was received from the Supreme Prosecutors Office. Cheng’s lawyers had been preparing for file requests for extraordinary appeal, retrial, and constitutional appeal, but were caught off guard by the swift pace. With the execution of Cheng, Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay has signed off on 12 executions in her two years and eight months as the Minister of Justice.
As the cabinet is scheduled to resign en mass on Wednesday, Luo will not have the opportunity to claim the title of female Minister of Justice with the most number of executions from Yeh Chin-fong, the only other woman to have held the position. Yeh executed 28 prisoners in her term during the last 15 months of Lee Teng-hui’s presidency.
Luo is doomed to be a follower. At least three of Yeh’s executions took place during Lee’s lame duck period between Chen Shui-bian’s electoral win in March 2000 and inauguration in May. In all likelihood, Luo will only manage to execute one during the current transition between Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen’s presidencies. Yeh was chosen as the judicial person of the year in 1999 by the Judicial Reform Foundation for being adamantly opposed to reforming the criminal justice system. It remains to be seen whether Luo will win this or other similar accolades for her extraordinary contribution to human rights discourse in Taiwan.
Yesterday, incoming Premier Lin Chuan announced the decision to retain Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) as one of the two deputy justice ministers under Chiu Tai-san.
Chen was the man who represented the Ministry of Justice to argue against same-sex marriage in the Legislative Yuan in December 2014. To recap, these were the reasons Chen cited:
1. The public would not be able to accept gender-neutral terms because they differ from people’s historical conceptions of human relations.
2. One of the reasons for marriage is procreation, and since same-sex couples cannot procreate, allowing them to marry would impact the existing marital institution that places emphasis on blood relations.
3. If same-sex marriage were recognized, death of a spouse would lead to inheritance passing onto the surviving spouse and children, thus the surviving parents would be left with nothing.
4. There are too many laws and regulations that use the terms ‘father,’ ‘mother,’ ‘grandfather,’ and ‘grandmother,’ so amending them all to be consistent with the marriage equality bill would be too cumbersome.
Chen was also the man responsible for announcing the execution of metro killer Cheng Chieh last night.
In his statement, Chen used the term ‘victims’ human rights’ in justifying the execution. Normally, lawyers would use the term ‘victims’ rights’ instead of the meaningless former term bandied about by the media. He also announced that the MOJ went ahead with the execution after confirming there are no pending requests for a retrial, extraordinary appeal, or constitutional interpretation, conveniently leaving out the fact that the MOJ must have known Cheng’s lawyers were in the process of filing them and were still within the eligible time frame to do so.
Perhaps Chen was only conveying the position of the MOJ and the Ministers of Justice he served under. Perhaps Chen’s personal views differ from that of the MOJ’s. Perhaps Chen doesn’t sound as ridiculous when he’s able to speak his own mind. Be that as it may, if Tsai Ing-wen and Lin Chuan are serious about judicial reform, why would they retain someone who has been the face of bigotry and human rights violations and the enemy of judicial reform in the past three years?
First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White
The News Lens has been authorized to repost these two articles. The pieces were first published on Taiwan Law Blog.