ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - The Catholic Church asks Parliament to abolish the death penalty

Friday, 10 March 2023 human rights   death penalty  

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - The "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of South Korea will officially present to the Korean Parliament, on March 13, a petition for the abolition of the death penalty and the introduction alternative sentences. The petition is signed by all 25 Korean Bishops - including Msgr. Lee Yong-hoon, President of the Bishops' Conference, Msgr. Kim Hee-joong, President of the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Msgr. Kim Seon-tae, head of the "Justice and Peace" Commission - by priests, religious and lay people from the 16 dioceses, a total of 75,843 signatures from the Catholic faithful. If we consider that the collection of signatures was organized over the past year, also marked by the limitations due to the pandemic, the number of more than 75,000 signatories is by no means small.
Catholics recall that over the past few years, bills on the abolition of the death penalty have been submitted to the National Assembly nine times, but that they have always remained without action. In the current 21st National Assembly, a bill titled "Special Death Penalty Abolition Law", introduced by Democratic Party member Lee Sang-min, and co-sponsored by 31 Assembly members national, has been forwarded to the Parliamentary Legislation Commission and will hopefully soon be debated in the Assembly.
It should be noted that, in the meantime, an appeal is still pending before the Constitutional Court to challenge the unconstitutionality of the death penalty in Korea. The case was initiated and filed by international groups such as Amnesty International, as well as national organizations such as the "Korea National Human Rights Commission" and the Association of Religions, which includes the Conference Catholic bishops from South Korea and representatives of the country's seven major religions.
In South Korea, 25 years have passed since the last executions: on December 30, 1997, 23 people were executed. The South Korean government then voted in favor of a "moratorium on the death penalty" at the United Nations General Assembly in 2020 and 2022. Invoking the deep respect and inviolability of all human life, including that of "Cain", "the Republic of Korea must go beyond the moratorium on executions to become a country that completely abolishes the death penalty", says the note from the Catholic bishops, calling on the state to "break the vicious circle violence". "It is a well-known fact, confirmed by numerous studies, that the death penalty has no deterrent effect on crime. In order to reduce the incidence of crime in society, it is necessary to develop preventive policies, to resolve the structural, economic and social contradictions of our society and to identify the root causes of crime itself, developing the creation of a safety net throughout society", reads the note of the Catholic Bishops. By submitting the petition to parliament, the Catholic Church in Korea hopes for "a thorough parliamentary debate on the bill, which could lead to the abolition of capital punishment for good". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 10/3/2023)