What you need to know
A Taiwan short film about the death penalty has been accepted in the Cannes Film Festival. While foreign countries have been calling upon the abolishment of the penalty in Taiwan, many Taiwanese still do not accept the idea.
Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang
A short film made by students from Soochow University regarding the death penalty issue has been accepted in the “Short Film Corner” category in the Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) and the 13th Universe Multicultural Film Festival.
The 23-minute film, “The Day to Choose,” depicts a lawyer and his wife that are both abolitionists of the capital punishment. One day, two men abused the lawyer’s wife to death and offered him three choices: shoot them to death, tell the police, or release them and pretend nothing happened.
“The Day to Choose” brings up philosophical thoughts towards the inner world of abolitionists and their deep concerns. By setting up this plot, the Taiwanese has started to ponder up the controversial topic again. It has also generated discussion from other countries.
Leon Lee, director of the film, says in an interview, “My Western friends feel that I’m trying to arouse certain contemplation over the abolishment, while some Taiwanese people think the film praises the idea of retaining the death penalty, which is quite interesting.”
European countries urging Taiwan to end the penalty
The death penalty still currently exists in Taiwan and executions have been made in recent years.
On February 22, Madeleine Majorenko, director of the European External Action Service visited Taiwan and suggested that the executions of prisoners should be banned. Taiwan’s situation regarding the death penalty has already been discussed in Europe many times. However, according to the government, it is still not the right time to abolish the penalty due to public opinions.
On March 3, the TAEDP (Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty) held a conference with several European legal organizations to discuss human rights issues and consult the policies of abolishing the capital punishment. Jeremy Purvis, a British representative attending the conference, suggested that the government should provide a fair mechanism if the abolishment takes place to alleviate opposing voices from the public.
Over 80% of Taiwanese still support capital punishment
While the abolishment of death penalty is now generally considered as the pursuit of human rights in Western cultures, most Taiwanese people still do not embrace this idea.
Last June, TVBS (TVB Super Channel), a local TV station, surveyed the Taiwanese regarding their opinions towards the death penalty. According to the results, only 11% of the population supports the abolishment, while 82% considers it to be necessary. Comparing these results to another poll conducted five years ago, it shows 85% of the people support the capital punishment, so it appears the Taiwanese attitude towards the penalty has changed slightly.
Most concerns lie in the protection of victims and the suspicion of so-called “real justice.” The most common perspective is that the brutal murderers should not be granted basic human rights since justice for their victims has already been violated.
Chang Pei-shan, an well-known TV anchor in Taiwan, posted on her Facebook page saying, ”Law is the lowest standard for morality. But killers cannot be considered as human beings, and laws protecting human rights should not be applied to them. When a person deprives others of their rights, it is unacceptable that they ask for the same treatment as others.“
Her opinion has been praised by thousands of Taiwanese. Many celebrities, including critics and politicians, also support this point of view.
Edited by Olivia Yang