Human Rights Commissioner condemns latest use of death penalty in Japan

26.06.2014 - Press release

Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (26 June 2014) on the latest use of the death penalty in Japan:

I am shocked and saddened to hear about the ninth execution since the current Japanese Government entered office in December 2012. I find it particularly shocking that Japan still does not inform the condemned or their families about the imminent execution. The family of the condemned do not find out about the death until afterwards. I consider this to be a particularly unreasonable and inhumane practice.

The death penalty is an inhumane and cruel form of exercise of power by the state. The Federal Government rejects it under all circumstances and is pushing for its abolition worldwide. So far, more than two thirds of all countries around the world have abolished the death penalty or are observing a moratorium on execution. Therefore, I today call once again on the Japanese Government to refrain from carrying out further death sentences and to conduct an open debate in society about the death penalty in Japan; this punishment is an anachronism in the 21st century.

Background information:

On 25 June 2014, a man sentenced to death in Japan was executed. He was a 68-year-old who had been sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of his sister-in-law and her two grandchildren. This means that since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office one and a half years ago, a total of nine people have been executed. People sentenced to death do not know about the imminent execution until immediately beforehand and thus have no opportunity to say farewell to their families. Their families are not informed about the execution until after the event. According to figures from the Japanese Ministry of Justice, there are currently 129 people on death row in Japan.

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