Amnesty calls for Japan to abolish death penalty

october 1,2012 http://www.radioaustralia.net.au

Leading human rights group Amnesty International is calling on Japan’s government to abolish the death penalty, after the country last week executed a woman for the first time in 15 years.

The 65-year-old woman, Sachiko Eta, was hanged late last week, along with 39-year-old Yukinori Matsuda.

Amnesty International’s Andrew Beswick said the government should take on its commitments to human rights by abolishing the death penalty.

“The death penalty hasn’t been shown to be an effective deterrent against crime and we believe that it’s the ultimate in cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” Mr Beswick told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia.

After carrying out no death penalties last year, Japanese authorities have executed seven people this year.

Mr Beswick said the increase may be explained by a high turnover of politicians, with the government having three Justice Ministers in the last 12 months.

“I guess what we’re seeing is changes in policy as the politicians change,” Mr Beswick said.

“There are a number of aspects to the death penalty in Japan which are particularly abhorrent including the complete lack of notice for people on death row, and also concerns about the way the system is heavily reliant on confessions.”

Mr Beswick said the Japan Democratic Party pledged to hold a debate on the death penalty and Amnesty hopes to hold them to that.

Since Amnesty first began to campaign against the death penalty 40 years ago, the trend in most countries has been to abolish it, Mr Beswick says.

Last year only 20 out of 198 countries carried out executions.

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