Statement on Executions of Death Penalty
Three inmates whose death sentences had been finalized were executed today, one at the Tokyo Detention House and two at the Osaka Detention House.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has repeatedly requested the Ministry of Justice to suspend executions until the death penalty system is thoroughly discussed and reviewed, including whether it should be maintained or abolished. The JFBA also adopted a proposal of the "Bill Establishing a Research Committee on the Capital Punishment System and Suspending Capital Punishment," namely the JFBA Bill Suspending Capital Punishment, in March 2008.
However, the current Minister of Justice executed three inmates following thirteen executions by the immediate past Minister of Justice since last December and the JFBA expresses deep regrets and denounces those executions.
The abolition of the death penalty is the mainstream of the international community.
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.
In addition, 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 recommendations expressed the common concerns of the international community. The Government should respect the acceded Convention and sincerely listen to the international voices. The Government also should openly discuss the death penalty and ensure that the essential information on the death penalty and the international trend toward its abolition is well disseminated to the public.
Today’s executions were carried out with unnecessary haste devoid of any such discussion, which is extremely regrettable.
Moreover, 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 have 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
September 11, 2008