(Hong Kong) Catholic bishops in Taiwan have urged the government to abolish the death penalty and turn Taiwan into a pro-life nation.
In response to recent controversy over the use of the death penalty on the island, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Taiwan published a statement in this week’s edition of Catholic Weekly calling upon the authorities to abolish the death penalty.
The bishops hope that Taiwan can become a pro-life nation and a model to countries in Asia where the death penalty is still in place.
The President of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop John Hung of Taipei, told media that Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist leaders were united in opposing the death penalty.
“If the government thinks that it cannot abolish capital punishment, it should suspend executions, and introduce some countermeasures from overseas experience,” the Archbishop said.
The Taiwan Justice Minister, Wang Ching-feng, resigned last month in opposition to the use of the death penalty, prompting widespread debate about capital punishment in Taiwan.
In their statement, the bishops said that there had been increasing numbers of “unnatural fatal cases” in recent years, but that the death penalty was “not the answer to stop crimes”.
“The legislature should improve legislation, to uphold justice and to protect the dignity of life,” the bishops said. They said that the root causes of homicide and suicide were “people’s lack of reflection on life”.
The Bishops’ Conference urged the Taiwanese government to promote family education, combat crime at its root, and put greater emphasis on educational and remedial measures in the correctional services. They also called for suitable compensation and care for relatives of victims. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan has launched a similar appeal.
Despite the Churches’ pleas, a recent survey by local media found that around 70 per cent of people in Taiwan support the death penalty, while only 12 per cent oppose it.
Another survey by leading Taiwanese research institute Academia Sinica found that people would support the abolition of capital punishment if the government introduced suitable alternative measures.
According to Amnesty International, there are 44 criminals awaiting execution in Taiwan.
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