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UA 237/93 - Taiwan: death penalty / treatment in detention: Chou Wei-cheng

, Index number: ASA 38/007/1993

Chou Wei-cheng was sentenced to death by Taipei District Court on 12 July 1993 for kidnapping and holding to ransom businessman Hsu Ming-chuan. Two co-defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment. Like all prisoners under sentence of death, he is believed to be permanently kept in iron feet shackles, a practice which constitutes degrading and inhuman treatment.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 38/07/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 237/93 Death Penalty/Treatment in Detention 20 July 1993
TAIWAN (REPUBLIC OF CHINA): CHOU Wei-cheng, aged 31, antique dealer
Chou Wei-cheng was sentenced to death by Taipei District Court on 12 July 1993
for kidnapping and holding to ransom businessman Hsu Ming-chuan. Two
co-defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment. Chou Wei-cheng, like all
prisoners under sentence of death, is believed to be permanently kept in iron
feet shackles, a practice which constitutes degrading and inhuman treatment.
When delivering the court's verdict, the judge is reported to have said that
Chou Wei-cheng deserved the death sentence for plotting the kidnap of Hsu
Ming-chuan who had treated the defendant like a son. Hsu Ming-chuan was kidnapped
in April 1993 and held for 72 hours before being rescued unharmed by the police.
Amnesty International is urging the Government of the Republic of China to
ensure that Chou Wei-cheng's sentence is commuted at or before his High Court
appeal hearing. It is also calling on the government to ensure that Chou
Wei-cheng is held in humane conditions, specifically that he is not made to
wear feet shackles permanently.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The death penalty is enforced in Taiwan for a wide range of offences, including
those which do not cause loss of life. At least 35 executions were carried
out during 1992, but no official statistics are available for 1993.
The recent execution of former gang-member turned model prisoner Liu Huan-jong
raised questions about the use of the death penalty and government officials
told Amnesty International that studies and public opinion polls on the subject
were envisaged. Amnesty International believes that there is no evidence that
the death penalty is a uniquely effective deterrent and that public opinion
would favour abolition if given the true facts about the death penalty.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all countries, on the grounds
that it is the ultimate form of torture and inhuman punishment and that it
is a violation of the right to life. In Taiwan it has also expressed concern
about the permanent shackling of prisoners under sentence of death and the
recent introduction of lethal injection as a method of execution. It has also
raised questions about the ethical questions surrounding the use of organs
from executed prisoners.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English, Chinese or in your own language:
-urging the authorities to review the death sentence imposed on Chou Wei-cheng
and to ensure that the sentence is commuted at or before his High Court appeal
hearing;
- urging the authorities to end the permanent feet shackling of all prisoners
under sentence of death, including Chou Wei-cheng;
- urging the President to use his Constitutional powers to commute the death
sentence on Chou Wei-cheng;
Page 2 of UA 237/93
- expressing unconditional opposition to the death penalty in all cases on
the grounds that it constitutes the ultimate form of torture and inhuman
punishment and is a violation of the right to life;
- calling on the authorities of the Republic of China to abolish the death
penalty and to suspend all executions until abolition is effective in law.
APPEALS TO
1) President LEE Teng-hui
President of the Republic of China
Office of the President
Chungching South Road
Taipei, Taiwan
Republic of China
Telegrams: President Lee Teng-hui, Taipei, Taiwan
Faxes: + 886 2 314 0746, + 886 2 311 5877; + 886 2 331 1604
Telexes: 11299 MOFAROC
Salutation: Dear President Lee
2) MA Ying-jeou
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
130 Chungching South Road, Sec 1
Taipei, Taiwan
Republic of China
Telegrams: Minister MA Ying-jeou, Taipei, Taiwan
Faxes: + 886 2 389 6239
Telexes: 11299 MAFAROC
Salutation: Dear Minister Ma
3) LIN Yang-kang
President of the Judicial Yuan
124 Chungching South Road, Sec 1
Taipei, Taiwan
Republic of China
Telgrams: President LIN Yang-kang, Taipei, Taiwan
Faxes: + 886 2 361 4264
Telexes: 11299 MOFAROC
Salutation: Dear President Lin
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Chinese Association for Human Rights
8/F, 102 Kwangfu South Road
Taipei
Taiwan
Republic of China
News Editor
Independence Morning Post
15 Chinan Road
Taipei, Taiwan
Republic of China
and to diplomatic representatives of Taiwan (or representative offices)
accredited to your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 31 August 1993.

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