The 59th JFBA General Meeting Resolution Calling for Full Implementation of International Human Rights Norms in Japan -Toward Immediate Establishment of Human Rights Safeguards including Establishment of Individual Complaint Procedures and an Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities-
This year (2008) marks the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights which established universal international human rights standards.
In 2008, the implementation of international human rights norms in Japan will be thoroughly reviewed. The UN Human Rights Council has already conducted an examination this May into the overall state of human rights in Japan and the UN Human Rights Committee will review the Fifth Periodic Report concerning the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights submitted by the Government of Japan (the Government) this autumn.
However, when evaluating the operation of domestic laws and human rights safeguards for the provision of relief to persons whose human rights have been violated, it is necessary to note that the current Japanese situation is far removed from international human rights norms from the perspective of incorporation of international human rights treaties into domestic laws and institutional guarantees of such treaties.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations considers this year to be “the human rights year for Japan” and hereby requests the Government to take effective measures to improve human rights safeguards and implement international human rights norms as follows:
- Individual complaints procedures set by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other treaties should be immediately realized.
The individual complaints procedures provided by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and other treaties are vital systems to ensure that international human rights laws are applied in order to provide relief to individual victims of human rights violations. However, for all of the aforementioned treaties, the Government has neither ratified the optional protocols contained therein which stipulate the individual complaints procedures nor declared their acceptance of the provisions concerning the individual complaints procedures. Introduction of the individual complaints procedures should be immediately realized.
- A national human rights institution substantially independent from the Government should be immediately established based on the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles) adopted at the UN General Assembly in 1993.
An independent national human rights institution is an essential human rights safeguard system to ensure the provision of expeditious and effective human rights relief. However, the human rights committee due to be established under the Government’s proposed bill on human rights protection is not wholly independent from the Government. A national human rights institution fully independent from the Government should be immediately established.
- The Government should immediately ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and in order to incorporate the convention into domestic laws, legislate against discrimination towards any person on the basis of disability.
The UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006, and it subsequently entered into force this May. This convention requires legislation regarding the elimination of all forms of discrimination including the denial of reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. The Government, being cognizant of the current situation in which persons with disabilities are unable to fully participate in Japanese society due to discrimination, should immediately ratify this convention. Further, in order to bring about its domestic implementation, the Government should promptly legislate for the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.
- The entire process of interrogations should be videotaped. In addition, the period of detention in police cells should be shortened with a view to abolishing substitute prisons (daiyo kangoku) in accordance with international human rights norms and legislative measures needs to be taken to restrict the length of interrogations.
The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) requested in its concluding observation, issued in May 2007, that Japan shorten the period of detention in police cells with a view to abolishing substitute prisons (daiyo kangoku) to conform with international human rights norms, legislate for the restriction of the length of interrogations, and introduce electronic recording of interrogations. Recently, defendants in the Shibushi, Himi and Hikinoguchi cases were improperly detained by police in daiyo kangoku for interrogations. Defendants in each case were subsequently found not guilty. Criticisms against such investigations which are unduly oriented toward extracting confessions are increasing and voices requesting proper investigative procedures are rising more than ever. In addition, the Saiban-in (lay judge) system is due to be implemented on May 21, 2009. Both domestic and international communities are requesting the Government to immediately take measures to remedy the above mentioned issues.
- The Government should suspend executions and establish a research committee on the death penalty system in the National Diet.
The concluding observation of the UN CAT requested the Government to remedy inhumane treatment of death row inmates and establish a moratorium on executions. Furthermore, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2007, calling for the suspension of executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. However, the Government executed three death row inmates in the same month and carried out further executions in February and April of this year. The JFBA urges the Government to suspend executions in accordance with the concluding observation of the UN CAT and establish a committee in the National Diet to examine the death penalty system including whether or not it should be abolished.
The JFBA strongly requests the Government and the Diet to take the above mentioned measures to fully implement international human rights norms in Japan and create human rights safeguards which ensure practical human rights relief. The JFBA will continue its utmost efforts to realize such measures.
The JFBA resolves as described above.
May 30, 2008
Japan Federation of Bar Associations