EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 38/07/93
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.
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.
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