Issues to be Reviewed and Discussed Regarding the Death Penalty System
October 30, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) would like to request the Ministry of Justice to arrange a meeting to discuss interim issues regarding the Death Penalty System.
The Ministry of Justice should:
1. (i) set up a meeting for experts to consider and discuss whether to retain or abolish the death penalty system; (ii) openly disclose (broadly publicize and make more accessible) information on the death penalty system and the operation thereof; (iii) research the current situation of other countries relative to the death penalty system; and (iv) draw a conclusion on how the death penalty system should be in the future based on a thorough investigation and discussion.
2. suspend executions (for an indefinite period of time until nationwide discussions on the abolition of the death penalty have been exhausted).
3. consider the immediate cessation of the application of the death penalty to juvenile criminals who were under the age of 20 at the time of their crime.
4. adopt a system in which a death sentence should be handed down only by a unanimous consent by the panel of both judges and lay-judges.
The JFBA has been requesting that judgments rendering a death sentence should be made only by the unanimous consent of the panel from the point of view of respecting human life and preventing miscarriage of justice. We also believe that a unanimous agreement should be necessary in order to minimize the burden on judges and lay-judges.
5. work immediately to realize the following: (i) automatic appeals to a higher court when a death sentence is rendered; and (ii) prohibition on public prosecutors filing appeals seeking the death penalty.
6. consider the method of conducting executions, including the issue regarding the prior announcement of execution.
7. review measures to prevent miscarriage of justice as follows:
(1) establish the right to a reappraisal of the evidence utilizing more reliable scientific methods
(2) guarantee confidential communications between death row inmates and their attorneys, etc.
(3) provide court-appointed attorneys for retrial appeals
(4) establish stays during requests for retrial
8. study the maximum penalty that can substitute for the death penalty.
9. review the method for pardoning inmates whose death sentences have been finalized.
10. improve the treatment of inmates whose death sentences have been finalized.
11. review the existing method of conducting opinion polls.