EU calls on Taiwan to stop use of death penalty

A European flag is flying on the Landeshaus in Kiel. The head of the state elections of Schleswig-Holstein informed about the European elections on 26.05.2019 at a press conference. (Carsten Rehder/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

BRUSSELS (CNA) — The European Union (EU) has called on Taiwan to introduce a temporary moratorium on the death penalty after a bilateral meeting on human rights in Brussels on May 14.

The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service, said in a statement after the second annual EU-Taiwan Human rights Consultations that the EU and Taiwan share democratic values and a respect for human rights and the rule of law but the death penalty remains problematic.

“The EU commended Taiwan for recent developments on human rights. The EU called upon the Taiwanese authorities to apply and maintain a de facto moratorium in relation to the death penalty in Taiwan,” the statement said.

“The EU regretted the resumption of executions in Taiwan in 2018 and reiterated its long-standing position that the death penalty has no deterrent effect and is an inhumane form of punishment that cannot be reversed.”

The EU added that Taiwan stated its position on the death penalty issue, without divulging what that was.

The death penalty remains legal in Taiwan and is supported by the vast majority of the population, up to 80 percent according to some polls, but outside human rights groups have continued to urge Taiwan to ban the practice.

Taiwan most recently executed a death-row inmate on Aug. 31, 2018, the first execution carried out under President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) government, which took office in May 2016.

During the meeting, Taiwan and the EU also discussed the situation of Lee Ming-che (李明哲), a Taiwanese activist who is serving a jail term in China for “subverting state power” after promoting democracy in group messaging chats.

The EU, meanwhile, also highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in incorporating the provisions of United Nations human rights conventions but called on Taiwan to better incorporate those provisions in its legal system and establish a human rights action plan.

Migrant workers’ rights, especially in the fishing industry, were discussed as well, with the EU underlining the need to effectively ensure that migrant workers are fully protected against discrimination, abuse or exploitation, the statement said.

During the discussions, the EU and Taiwan updated each other on respective policies on LGBT and gender equality and brought up for the first time indigenous people’s rights.

Taiwan and the EU agreed to hold the annual consultations in Taipei next year and maintain close cooperation on the topics raised this year, the statement said.

By Tang Pei-chun and Evelyn Kao