02/25/2010, 00.00
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Seoul, the Constitutional Court in favour of the death penalty

For the second time in history South Korean judges rule executions "in accordance with the law". They are a deterrent to crime and serve to protect citizens and public interests. Since 1948 920 people have been executed. Currently there are 58 inmates on death row.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The South Korean Constitutional Court today voted in favour of the death penalty for the second time, confirming a decision made 14 years ago. The 5-4 ruling of the Constitutional Court said South Korean Yonhap News, follows a similar ruling issued in 1996 and among the reasons given there is a need for a stronger more decisive society, prior to removing the death penalty from the nation’s 'legal system.  

Judges ruled that executions are "a punishment according to law that serves as a deterrent to crime, to preserve the public good." The punishment, the judges write, also serves to "protect the common citizens and the most important public interests." However, the Court also added that it should be applied only in "exceptional cases" and are taking additional precautionary measures to prevent its abuse.

In 1998 the then President Kim Dae-jung had established a semi-official moratorium on the death penalty, mindful of the conviction that he himself suffered in 1980 and never enforced by the military regime in power. Since 1948, the year of its introduction in South Korea 920 people have been executed. Currently there are 58 inmates on death row.    

The sentence reflects the thoughts of South Korean public opinion, mostly in favour of the death penalty. According to a survey done in 2006 by the National Commission for Human Rights (NHRC) 69.5% of the population supports the death penalty.  

China retains the dubious distinction of the highest number of executions carried out in 2008. The Beijing government killed 1718 people, well over half of the 2390 death sentences carried out throughout the world. 93% of executions involved five countries. In addition to China, the list includes Iran (346), Saudi Arabia (102), the U.S. (37) and Pakistan (36). The continent that has used the death penalty more than any other is Asia with 1838 convictions.

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