By Bob Kao/Ketagalan Media

After the gruesome knife attack that killed the little girl in Taipei last week, Taiwan is again embroiled in a debate on the death penalty. Proponents call for its swift use, sometimes blatantly advocating for the disregard of due process for the suspect by encouraging vigilante justice, whereas abolitionists have been relatively silent, knowing that anything they say would be used against them, including as justifications for death threats to them and their relatives. Many people, positioning themselves in the rational middle ground, urge dialogue and communication on issues such as the efficacy of the death penalty under different theories of punishment and addressing root causes of violent crimes such as mental illness or drugs, however misguided.

I have been unsystematically monitoring news sites and Facebook pages this past week to see the discussions generated by the killing. The most interesting comment I saw was one that blamed President Ma Ying-jeou for the supposed increase in violent crimes in Taiwan, as it was he who, in 2009, spearheaded the effort to pass legislation – Act to Implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Implementation Act) – to incorporate the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) into domestic Taiwanese law. ICCPR Article 6(2) states:

‘In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.’

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: Death Penalty in Taiwan: A Defense of President Ma

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White