Human Rights Commissioner Kofler condemns latest use of death penalty in Japan

31.03.2016 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (31 March) on the latest use of the death penalty in Japan:

I was shocked to hear that the death penalty has again been carried out in Japan. Two people were executed in Japan on Good Friday. 16 people have thus been executed in Japan since December 2012.

The death penalty is an inhuman and cruel form of punishment. The German Government rejects the death penalty under all circumstances and will continue to work with its partners in the European Union to actively campaign for its worldwide abolition.

Germany and Japan are close partners and work together in a spirit of trust on many issues. I call upon the Japanese Government to reconsider its current practice, to suspend the use of the death penalty and to instigate a public debate in society on what purpose the death penalty is supposed to serve in a highly developed legal system like Japan’s.

Background information:

Two individuals sentenced to death were executed in Japan on 25 March 2016. One of them was a 75 year old man who had been sentenced to death in 2005 for the murder of five people between 1985 and 1994, while the other was a 56 year old woman who had been sentenced to death for the murder of two people committed in 1998 and 1999.

A total of 16 people have now been executed since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012. Those sentenced to death do not know about the imminent execution until immediately beforehand and thus have no opportunity to say farewell to their families – who are themselves only told about the execution after the event. There are currently 124 prisoners on death row in Japan.

The number of countries which have abolished the death penalty or no longer carry it out is growing: 102 countries around the world, more than half of all states, have completely abolished the death penalty, while a total of 140 states no longer carry out executions.

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