By Martin Banks - 12th December 2012
We would clearly welcome a continuation of the moratorium
A senior official in the EU's diplomatic corps has urged Taiwan to call a halt to its policy of executing criminals.
The call comes amid a renewed clamour for Taiwan to resume the death penalty in the wake of the recent murder of a child. Taiwan is one of the few countries in the world to retain the death penalty.
Speaking in Brussels, Joelle Hivonnet said the external action service (EAS) "would welcome" an extension of Taiwan's temporary moratorium on the death penalty.
Hivonnet, who is based in the China division of the EAS, said, "We sincerely hope that Taiwan will not resume the death penalty but, rather, will strive for its abolition."
She praised the efforts made by Taiwan to embrace democracy, saying the EAS was "a great respecter" of Taiwan's adherence of human rights.
The official, who was speaking in parliament, said, "Human rights is the golden thread that runs through the EU's foreign policy.
"As such we would clearly welcome a continuation of the moratorium on the death penalty in Taiwan."
Her comments come as Taiwan is being urged by human rights groups and anti-capital punishment advocates not to succumb to pressure to revert to the death penalty.
Amnesty International said as it urged an immediate moratorium on capital punishment as a first step towards its abolition.
Public pressure has been building on the government to carry out executions following the murder of a 10 year-old boy in the city of Tainan on 1 December.
The alleged murderer is reported to have said he did not fear being executed, because of the Taiwanese government commitment to move away from using the death penalty.
On 6 December, following several large-scale demonstrations calling for the execution of the alleged murderer, the ministry of justice stated that "executions must be carried out" but that it had not set a timetable yet.
Roseann Rife, head of east Asia for Amnesty International, said, "This is a deplorable statement by the ministry of justice, and all the more disappointing because of the government's earlier stated commitment to move away from the death penalty."
Taiwan has not executed anyone this year. Five people were executed in 2011 and 61 people remain on death row.