Request for the Launch of a Nationwide Debate on Abolition of the Death Penalty System and Suspending Executions and Taking Immediate Measures to Prevent Miscarriages of Justice Leading to the Death Penalty
December 9, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
About the Request
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) prepared its “Request for the Launch of a Nationwide Debate on Abolition of the Death Penalty System and Suspending Executions and Taking Immediate Measures to Prevent Miscarriages of Justice Leading to the Death Penalty,” and submitted it to the Justice Minister, Mr. Mitsuhide Iwaki, on December 9, 2015.
Summary of the Request
1. The JFBA requests that the government take the following measures to initiate a nationwide debate on the abolition of the death penalty:
(1) (i) Set up an advisory committee at the Ministry of Justice which launches a public debate regarding the “Provisional Issues to be Reviewed and Discussed Regarding the Death Penalty System”, (ii) openly disclose information on the death penalty system and the operation thereof to the general public, (iii) conduct research on the current situations around the world in relation to the death penalty system; and (iv) come to a conclusion on how the death penalty system should be conducted in the future based on the results of such research and debate. Further, members of the advisory committee should be chosen respectively and equally from those in favor of retaining the system, those wishing to abolish the system and those with a neutral stance about the death penalty system, thereby enabling a public debate to be conducted.
(2) Suspend all executions for an indefinite period of time until discussions have been exhausted.
2. In order to prevent the occurrence of miscarriages of justice leading to the wrongful implementation of the death penalty, the government should immediately take the measures listed below:
(1) Setting up a full-scale evidence disclosure system which includes the issuance to the defense counsel of a list of evidence collected by the investigative organizations.
(2) Establishing the right to a reappraisal of the evidence utilizing more reliable scientific methods.
(3) Guaranteeing confidential communications between death row inmates and their attorneys, etc.
(4) Establishing a court-appointed attorney system for retrial appeals.
(5) Establishing the suspensive effect of requests for retrial in capital cases.
(6) Resuming the practice which notifies the death row inmate of the operation of the execution reasonably in advance.