Top UN human rights official dismayed by execution of three Japanese prisoners

7 December 2007

The top United Nations human rights official today deplored the execution of three prisoners – including one aged over 75 – in Osaka, Japan, and appealed to the East Asian nation to reassess its approach to the death penalty.

The executions reportedly took place suddenly and neither the convicts nor their families were given advance warning.

“This practice is problematic under international law, and I call on Japan to reconsider its approach in this regard,” Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

Expressing particularly dismay at the execution of the prisoner over the age of 75, she said that “it is difficult to see what legitimate purpose is served by carrying out such executions of the elderly, and at the very least on humanitarian grounds, I would urge Japan to refrain from such action.”

In contrast to carrying out executions in secret as it has done in the past, Japan publicly released the names of those executed, the High Commissioner noted.

Japan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which legally obligates States Parties to ensure strict safeguards when applying the death penalty. It is widely accepted that executions cannot be carried out in secret and without warning, as this could be seen as inhuman punishment and treatment under the ICCPR.

Ms. Arbour urged the Japanese Government to implement a moratorium on executions or ban the practice altogether, as a growing number of nations have.

 

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