Statement on Executions of Death Penalty
Three inmates whose death sentences had been finalized were executed today, two at the Tokyo Detention House and one at the Osaka Detention House.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has repeatedly requested the Ministry of Justice to suspend executions for a certain period until the death penalty system is fundamentally reviewed including whether it should be maintained or abolished. It is deeply regrettable, however, that despite the JFBA's request, a large number (thirteen) of inmates were executed during the past six months since December 2007, and we strongly protest such governmental decisions.
Apparently, the international community is moving toward the abolition of the death penalty.
The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty in 1989, which entered into force in 1991. Every year since April 1997, the UN Commission on Human Rights (reorganized into the UN Human Rights Council in 2006) adopted resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty. Furthermore, the UN General Assembly adopted, by an overwhelming majority in December, 2007, a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions.
The concluding observations of the UN Committee against Torture in May, 2007, which were issued after considering the report of the Japanese Government under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which Japan acceded in 1999, and the second session of the Universal Periodic Review conducted by the UN Human Rights Council this May expressed concerns from many countries over continuous executions in Japan and recommended that the Government suspend executions.
These are the unified voices from the international community and Japan is currently expected to openly discuss the death penalty, including how Japan should respond to the above mentioned recommendations and resolutions, and hasty executions are not expected. Today's executions are tantamount to a declaration to the international community that Japan does not respect the acceded Convention and does not listen to the international voices.
In addition, inmates on death row in Japan are in conditions which infringe the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the relevant UN resolutions. Also, the rights of death row inmates has not yet been sufficiently guaranteed. It is a huge problem that they are executed immediately under such conditions.
The JFBA once again strongly urges the Government to suspend executions for a certain period so that a fundamental consideration and review of the death penalty including whether it should be maintained or abolished can be thoroughly conducted.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
June 17, 2008