Anti-death penalty group organizes film festival to seek change


TAIPEI, Taiwan — An anti-death penalty group announced an annual film festival yesterday and called for the abolition of capital punishment, three days before the Oct. 10 World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) Executive Director Lin Hsin-yi announced that the 2010 Murder by Numbers Film Festival will screen nine death penalty related films from Germany, Japan, Iran, Hong Kong, France, India, Taiwan and the United States in Taipei, Hsinchu and on university campuses around the country from Oct. 8-24.

“We would like to call for an immediate moratorium on executions and implementation of reasonable punishment and victim protection, as well as call attention to the importance of judicial justice and scientific analysis,” she said.

The film festival will serve as a platform for dialogue between those who support and those who oppose the death penalty, Lin said, adding that the dialogue mechanism is especially needed after heated debate about the issue earlier this year.

Taiwan’s execution of four prisoners April 30, which ended a five-year moratorium on the death penalty, drew criticism from various countries and international organizations and ignited nationwide discussion on the Internet and in the media, she said.

The festival is also intended to focus on the issue of state violence by reviewing the triangular relations between the government, its people and the death penalty, Yen Chueh-an, a professor at National Taiwan University, said in a press conference organized by the TAEDP and other civic groups.

Kao Yung-cheng, head of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said he was happy to see that discussion of the issue has become more intense.

According to Kao, “executions have been halted for now, but I’m not sure what will happen after the European Union approves visa-free privileges in the Schengen Area for Taiwanese travelers,” he said.

The EU expressed disappointment with Taiwan after the April 30 executions. It has said that the visa-free treatment and the death penalty are separate issues, but there have been assumptions in Taiwan that the prolonged review process of the privileges is related to the executions.

World Day Against the Death Penalty was launched in 2003 by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. The program this year focuses on the United States, one of the few developed countries that have refused to abolish capital punishment.