Japan Federation of Bar Associations adopts Declaration at AGM calling for abolition of death penalty – 7/10/2016

*  from MADPET Blog
Malaysian Bar adopted a Resolution calling for the abolition of the death penalty at its Annual General Meeting in March 2006, and now we have the Japan Federation of Bar Associations doing the same. We hope that all other Bar Associations and Lawyer Organisations especially in countries that retain the death penalty will also do the same soon.
See related post:-

2006 – Malaysian Bar adopts Resolution on the Abolition of the Death Penalty

ADPAN URGES JAPAN FEDERATION OF BAR ASSOCIATION(JFBA) MEMBERS TO TAKE A STRONG CLEAR STANCE FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY

National

In historic move, Japan’s legal community takes stand against death penalty
by Alastair Wanklyn
Staff Writer
Japanese lawyers positioned themselves against the death penalty on Friday, as the Japan Federation of Bar Associations called for abolition of a punishment that critics say is uniquely cruel and vengeful.
JFBA members approved a declaration that seeks to abolish the death penalty by 2020 and to replace it with life imprisonment, a change that will bring Japan into line with most other developed nations.
The JFBA represents around 37,600 Japanese lawyers and hundreds of foreign legal professionals. In the past it has expressed unease over the death penalty but has stopped short of taking a stand against it.
Friday’s move will set the legal profession against the government, which has executed 16 people since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in 2012.
In a joint statement, the European Union and the Norwegian, Icelandic and Swiss embassies called the JFBA’s decision “timely and welcome.”
“We hope that an open, public debate on this issue in Japan will follow, allowing the people of Japan to weigh for themselves the evidence from a growing number of countries . . . that an abolition of death penalty can actually strengthen the capacity of judicial systems to effectively deliver justice and, at the same time, prevent irreversible miscarriages of justice,” they said.
The move was welcomed by activists, who say the death penalty is error-prone and leaves prisoners with no opportunity for rehabilitation.
“Capital punishment in all cases should be abolished because the inherent dignity of the person cannot be squared with the death penalty, a form of punishment unique in its cruelty and finality,” Kanae Doi of the Tokyo branch of Human Rights Watch said Friday.
“The death penalty is widely rejected by rights-respecting democracies around the world and I see no reason why Japan cannot follow the stream. I welcome the JFBA restarting the discussion in this direction.”
EU governments have been lobbying hard for Japan to end executions. British, French and Italian diplomats press the case regularly in their meetings with lawyers, legislators and journalists.
Some European diplomats privately express frustration that abolition is not even a subject of public debate in Japan.
The French Embassy in Tokyo said Friday it hopes that discussion will now emerge.
“We have been calling on Japan to introduce a moratorium for many years,” the embassy said in a statement. “In this respect, we salute the declaration of the JFBA. The death penalty is a moral issue, but it is also necessary to question its usefulness.”
Japan is one of only two Group of Seven nations that retain the death penalty.
In the U.S., figures show the trend is slowing. Executions in the U.S. this year are on track to be the lowest in 25 years, and the trend is matched by a sharp decline in the number of death sentences passed by American courts.
Japan’s death row prisoners are usually kept in solitary confinement and are required to stay silent, conditions that critics call both inhumane and excessively punitive.
Doubts about the reliability of convictions have been fueled by cases such as that of Iwao Hakamada.

He was sentenced to death in 1968 in a case based on evidence apparently fabricated by police.

Hakamada was freed in 2014 but now lives with severe mental impairments after more than four decades on death row.
In 2015 Japan executed three prisoners. That year, the case of 89-year-old Masaru Okunishi also drew attention. He died in the hospital after 46 years on death row, fighting to clear his name in the murders of five women. He said his confessions were forced and sought a retrial on nine occasions. – The Japan Times, 7/10/2016

Japanese lawyers urge country to abolish death penalty

Japan has one of the world’s lowest murder rates, making the need for capital punishment unconvincing, the federation said.

By: AP | Tokyo | Published:October 7, 2016 9:33 pm

capital punishment, death penalty, japan capital punishment, japan death penalty, Japanese bar associations, japan law, japan news, world news

 

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations urged the government on Friday to introduce life imprisonment to replace execution.
  Japanese bar associations have formally adopted a policy against the death penalty for the first time, demanding the government abolish execution by 2020 when Japan hosts the Olympics and an international conference on criminal justice. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations urged the government on Friday to introduce life imprisonment to replace execution.

Japan has one of the world’s lowest murder rates, making the need for capital punishment unconvincing, the federation said. It also cited the risk of wrongful convictions and the lack of evidence that the death penalty reduces crime. Nearly 130 prisoners are on death row in Japan, according to justice officials. Crimes subject to a possible death penalty in Japan include murder and acts such as arson or sabotage that cause death, usually in the most egregious cases or involving multiple victims, as well as terrorist attacks and attempted coups.

“We should face the fact that the death penalty … is a serious and grave violation of human rights by the state,” the group said in a statement, adopted after heated debate and objection by opponents at a convention in Fukui, western Japan. The statement said the possibility of mistrials and wrongful accusations could not be denied. “Once carried out, the death penalty is irreversible and fundamentally different from other punishment.”

Four death row prisoners have been found innocent and released after being granted retrials since the 1980s, including former professional boxer Iwao Hakamada, who won release in 2014 after nearly 50 years on death row for a wrongful murder accusation. Japan and the US are the only Group of Seven members that maintain the death penalty, while 140 nations have ended the practice that opponents consider cruel.

The prospect of any change is unclear as the majority of Japanese still support the death penalty. Some lawyers favor keeping the capital punishment as a way to address the victims’ feelings. At today’s convention, a group of lawyers handed out leaflets, unsuccessfully trying to vote down the federation-wide policy. Membership in a local bar association is compulsory for Japan’s more than 37,000 lawyers, and its members include a few hundred other people, such as foreign lawyers. – The Indian Express, 7/10/2016

Japan lawyers’ group seeks end to death penalty

An execution chamber is pictured at the Tokyo Detention Center in Tokyo August 27, 2010. Japan opened up its gallows for the first time to domestic media on Friday, a move that could spark public debate over executions in a country where a hefty majority supports retaining the death penalty. Mandatory credit Kyodo/File Photo via REUTERS
 
By Elaine Lies | TOKYO

 

Japan’s biggest lawyers’ group on Friday called for the abolition of the death penalty, a controversial move in country where a large majority of the public supports executing criminals convicted of the most serious offences.

Human rights advocates have long denounced Japan’s capital punishment system, under which prisoners are told without warning they will be hanged within hours, but there has been little momentum for change.
 
Some 80 percent of the public and the core of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party favor capital punishment. Japan and the United States are the only two members of the Group of Seven advanced economies to practice it.
 
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations issued a declaration calling for the abolishment of the death penalty by 2020, citing the possibility of wrongful convictions and international trends against capital punishment. It also said there was little evidence that it deterred crime.
 
“There’s a serious risk of false charges under Japan’s criminal justice system, which has fatal flaws in the disclosure of evidence and long periods of detainment and interrogation,” the statement said.

The death penalty is currently used for crimes including murder, coups and arson or rape that causes death.
 
The move by the lawyers’ group was expected to be opposed by a politically vocal victims’ rights group, which has consistently urged that the death penalty be maintained.

“When a life is taken by crime, that life will never return,” the group said on its homepage. “For the dead person’s loved ones to want heavy punishment is only natural.”
 
The danger, said Shizuka Kamei, a former Cabinet member who was a police official for decades before entering politics, was that an innocent person may end up condemned.
 
“Depriving an innocent, defenseless person of their life is a heinous killing on the part of the nation,” Kamei, head of an anti-death penalty lawmakers group, said during a news conference on Thursday.

 
Proponents of the death penalty say it deters crime, but activists note that nearly 99 percent of criminal trials in Japan end with convictions and reliance on confessions is high. Suspects are not always guaranteed the presence of a lawyer.
 
There were 127 people on death row at several prisons around Japan at the end of 2015.
 
(Additional reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Malcolm Foster; Editing by Nick Macfie) – Reuters, 7/10/2016

ADPAN URGES JAPAN FEDERATION OF BAR ASSOCIATION(JFBA) MEMBERS TO TAKE A STRONG CLEAR STANCE FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY

adpan_logo_cmyk_small4.jpg 

Media Statement – 5/10/2016

ADPAN URGES JAPAN FEDERATION OF BAR ASSOCIATION(JFBA) MEMBERS TO TAKE A STRONG CLEAR STANCE FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY

ADPAN (The Anti Death Penalty Asia-Pacific Network)  is pleased that members of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, whose membership includes 37,000 lawyers and hundreds of other legal professionals,  will be voting for the abolition of the death penalty at their Annual General Meeting on 7/10/2016 (The Japan Times and The Guardian, 21/9/2016). We hope that this Resolution and/or Declaration will be approved with an overwhelming majority, if not unanimously.

The Malaysian Bar, whose membership now is about 17,000 practicing lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia, adopted a Resolution in March 2006 at its Annual General Meeting calling for the abolition of the death penalty, and for a moratorium on execution pending abolition. Since then, resolutions for the abolition of the death penalty have been tabled and adopted by the Malaysian Bar over the years re-affirming its membership’s commitment towards the abolition of the death penalty.

A resolution of a Bar Associations, adopted by its membership, is a very powerful statement which demonstrates clearly that it is not just the Bar, but that its members are  also  clearly for the abolition of the death penalty.

This JFBA resolution and/or declaration of members will be a strong statement to the Japanese Government, now led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has sadly executed about 16 persons since 2012. There are presently about 124 inmates on death row in Japan.

The risk of miscarriage of justice, and innocent people being executed became a major concern since 2014 after Iwao Hakamada was released having spent more than 45 years on death row. He had been  sentenced to hang in 1968 for the murders two years earlier of a company president, his wife and their two children. The presiding judge, Hiroaki Murayama, when releasing Hakamada in 2014 also had this to say, “There is a possibility that [key pieces of] evidence have been fabricated by investigative bodies.

ADPAN  calls on  the Japanese government to heed the call of JFBA and its members , and  abolish the death penalty.

ADPAN also hopes that Bar associations, civil society organisations, political parties, trade unions and groups  in Asia-Pacific nation states will also pass similar resolutions at General Meetings calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

Charles Hector

Fifa Rahman

 

For and on behalf of ADPAN

 

 

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is a regional network of organization and individual members committed to working for the abolition of the death penalty in Asia-Pacific

Website: https://adpan.org/aboutus/

Email: contactadpan@gmail.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ADPANetwork

Twitter: @adpanetwork

 

 

Calls to abolish death penalty grow louder in Japan (Guardian)

Calls to abolish death penalty grow louder in Japan

Country’s legal community will declare its opposition to capital punishment amid concern over miscarriages of justice

Iwao Hakamada
Doubts over the safety of convictions increased when Iwao Hakamada was released in 2014 after spending more than 45 years on death row. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters

Japan is expected to come under unprecedented domestic pressure over its use of the death penalty when, for the first time, the country’s legal community calls for its abolition next month.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, whose membership includes 37,000 lawyers and hundreds of other legal professionals, said it would declare its opposition to capital punishment at a meeting in early October due to growing concern over miscarriages of justice.

The declaration will put the federation at odds with the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, whose administration has executed 16 people since it took office in late 2012.

Successive Japanese governments have resisted pressure from the UN, the EU and human rights groups to abolish the death penalty.

“If an innocent person or an offender who does not deserve to be sentenced to death is executed, it is an irrevocable human rights violation,” Yuji Ogawara, who heads a bar association panel on the death penalty, was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency.

“There are still lawyers who support the death penalty, but I think we have developed an environment that enables us to seek its abolition.”

The federation will call for an end to capital punishment by 2020, when Japan hosts a UN congress on crime prevention and criminal justice. It said life sentences without the possibility of parole should be considered as an alternative.

Japan and the US are the only G7 countries that continue to execute prisoners, while more than 140 countries have abolished the death penalty either by law or in practice.

Shinzo Abe
Pinterest
Shinzo Abe’s administration has executed 16 people since taking power in 2012. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Doubts about the safety of convictions grew in 2014 after Iwao Hakamada was released having spent more than 45 years on death row. A court ordered a retrial in Hakamada’s murder case, amid suggestions that police investigators fabricated evidence against him.

The former professional boxer had been sentenced to hang in 1968 for the murders two years earlier of a company president, his wife and their two children.

In addition, four death row prisoners were found not guilty after being granted retrials in the 1980s.

Japan has resisted calls to end capital punishment, citing opinion polls showing high levels of support for its retention. Public backing for the death penalty remained strong during the trials of people accused of taking part in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, in which 13 people died and thousands were injured.

In a damning 2009 report, Amnesty International accused Japan of subjecting death row inmates to “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment. Prisoners typically spend many years in solitary confinement, and only learn of the timing of their execution, by hanging, hours before it takes place.

Amnesty recently criticised Japan for executing or placing mentally ill and intellectually challenged prisoners in solitary confinement.

Legal experts welcomed the federation’s decision. “Having Japan’s largest human rights protection body come out in favour of eliminating the death sentence will have a huge impact,” Prof Kana Sasakura from Konan University in Kobe told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

There are 124 inmates on death row in Japan, 89 of whom are seeking retrials, according to the justice ministry. – Guardian, 21/9/2016