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Cabinet approves bill to remove sunset clause for death sentence

June 5, 2023 - 17:26 By Son Ji-hyoung



The South Korean government on Monday approved a bill to remove the sunset clause for the death penalty in a bid to prevent inmates on death row from avoiding execution after 30 years in prison.

The revision, once enacted, will be applied retroactively, the government added.

Before being signed into law, the revision bill, which was proposed by the Ministry of Justice, will require parliamentary approval after passing through the Cabinet. South Korean law requires a government-proposed bill to get Cabinet approval before making its way to parliament.

The Ministry of Justice said in a statement that the revision of the Criminal Act will be tabled at the National Assembly later this week.

As it currently stands, the execution of an inmate on death row must take place within 30 years of the inmate's final sentencing, due to the prescription period of the current Criminal Act.

Seoul has not formally abolished the death penalty, but no executions have taken place since 1998. The nation has 59 prisoners on death row.

In November, Korea will see its first commutation of a death sentence following the lapse of 30 years since the prisoner's sentencing, which has led to calls for a revision of the act.

The 65-year-old man, surnamed Won, was sentenced to death in November 1993 for burning down a Jehovah's Witnesses church, killing 15 people. He committed the crime because he was angry that his wife became a Jehovah's witness.

In April, the Justice Ministry put up the legislative notice for the revision. It took two months for the revision to receive Cabinet approval.