03/12/2010, 00.00
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Taipei, Justice Minister resigns because opposed to the death penalty

She has declared that she would rather die than to order the execution of one of the 44 inmates on death row. China has the primacy of death sentences in the world. But so far at least 139 countries have abolished it.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - The Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng has resigned after being the subject of fierce criticism for her opposition to the death penalty. Premier Wu Den-yih announced her resignation this morning, saying he respects her decision.    

Days ago Wang (pictured) said she would leave the government rather than to enforce the death sentence on one of the 44 convicts on death row. She added that he would rather die in their place or “descend to hell” for them.

Today, she declared to the press: " Everybody is trying to force me to carry out the death penalty, to kill people, but I simply just can't do it. The best choice for me is to leave. "    

Her position has generated an avalanche of criticism from MPs and activists committed to retaining the death penalty in the country. The government had even broadcast a communiqué stating that it would not abolished the death penalty.    

Wang's predecessor was also against the death penalty. In Taiwan there has been no execution since 2005.  

The well-known criminal lawyer Chuang Hsiu-ming says that as long as capital punishment remains in the laws of Taiwan, a Minister of Justice may not refuse to authorize  execution, because it would go against the law and the Constitution.  

According to the Judicial Reform Foundation, an NGO that seeks to reform the island’s code, Wang should be applauded for having had the "stomach" to tackle the issue of capital punishment.    

According to the latest data available in 2008 , 2390 death sentences were carried out. China holds the record with 1718. Meanwhile in the world is growing more sensitive to abolishment of the death penalty. In the 1970s only 23 countries had abolished the death penalty, today there are 139.
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