Statement in Response to Final Report by Study Panel on Hansen's Disease
A study panel on Hansen's disease submitted its final report to the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare on March 1, 2005, after its two and half years' study.
The final report pointed out the responsibilities of not only the government but also various professionals, including medical, legal and mass media, for seriously violating human rights of current and former Hansen's patients and their families for long time. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) sincerity accepts this condemnation.
Since the establishment of the Leprosy Prevention Law in 1953, we, practicing attorneys, had left this issue without presenting any concrete recommendations. We had not taken any measures to research the serious situation of human rights violations against the former Hansen's patients until January 1996, when then JFBA President issued a statement on revision and repeal of the Leprosy Prevention Law and an opinion paper on the same subject in the next month. We had not presented any practical recommendations for human rights relief, until in May 2001, then JFBA President issued a statement concerning the court decision which ruled the Leprosy Prevention Law was unconstitutional, and the JFBA made recommendations in response to an appeal for human rights relief and the JFBA President issued comments on that occasion in June 2001. We deeply regret that these inactions were one of the reasons why the unconstitutional Leprosy Prevention Law had remained and this serious violation of human rights had been ignored.
Following the above mentioned statements, etc., we have released opinion papers, featured related articles in our monthly journal "Jiiyu to Seigi", adopted a special resolution on Hansen's disease issues at the JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights, issued booklets, held symposiums, and have been making efforts to protect the human rights of the former Hansen's patients. In November 2003, there was an incident in the Kurokawa hot-spring area, Kumamoto Prefecture, where one of its hotels refused to accommodate former Hansen's patients, and opprobrium has been heaped on the former Hansen's patients. At that time, the JFBA, by its President's statement, requested the government to investigate this case and to take thorough actions to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against the former Hansen's patients.
The JFBA reaffirms our commitment to strive to protect fundamental human rights and achieve social justice with keeping firmly in our mind the responsibility of bar associations, which was pointed out by the final report of the study panel. We declare that we make further efforts to fully and immediately recover the human rights of the former Hansen's patients by urging the authorities concerned and supporting activities of a roadmap committee to be established in response to the recommendations of the study panel, and make every effort to immediately solve all problems related to Hansen's disease.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
March 11, 2005