Statement on Carrying Out the Death Penalty on Individuals Sentenced to Death
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has repeatedly requested the Ministry of Justice show restraint in its implementation of the death penalty until national debate regarding the preservation or abolition of capital punishment has been exhausted. However, in recent days the death penalty has been carried out on two individuals sentenced to death, one in Tokyo and one in Nagoya.
With respect to the death penalty, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aimed at the abolition of the death penalty on December 15, 1989, which went into effect in 1991. In addition, every year since April 1997 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has passed a resolution on the abolition of the death penalty. This resolution calls upon nations such as Japan that maintain the death penalty "to observe the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty" as well as "to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to completely abolishing the death penalty."
Furthermore, the United Nations Human Rights Committee in November 1993 and again in November 1998 has issued recommendations to the Japanese government that it adopt measures aimed at abolishing the death penalty and improving the treatment of those sentenced to death.
Also, the Council of Europe on June 26, 2001, adopted a resolution that urged the United States and Japan to enact a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty and quickly to quickly take steps toward its abolishment. It advocates raising objection toward continuance of these two countries' observer status at the Council should no clear effort be demonstrated by January 1, 2003, toward the abolition of the death penalty there.
Based on the November 1997 resolution of our federation's governing body, we ask the prime minister and the minister of justice to observe the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, rectify the inhumanity in the scope of application and procedures for implementation of the death penalty, and with all due speed take steps aimed at protecting the rights of those facing the death penalty. Also, at the time of each execution since the use of the death penalty was reinstated in March 1993, each successive president of our federation has made statements and given talks on the matter. These statements have emphasized that "a national debate on the problem of whether to preserve or abolish the death penalty must be held, that the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty has been inadequate, and that there should be restraint in carrying out of the death penalty owing to concern that such would contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Nations' resolutions."
It is extremely regrettable that in recent days the death penalty was again carried out. Our federation again strongly urges the government to give full consideration to the requests made in international human rights laws as noted earlier and that the government show restraint in carrying out the death penalty in the future.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
December 28, 2001