Friday, September 11, 2009

Japan Excutes Menatlly Ill Prisoners

AI released a report this Wednesday regarding the use of the death penalty in Japan.

The nation executes mentally ill prisoners and often subjects inmates to harsh and cruel treatment that leads to increased states of mental illness while incarcerated. Unable to see their families or speak with lawyers, death row inmates are totally isolated prior to execution.

And might I add - all executions are done by hanging.

The death penalty for criminals remains one of the most barbaric practices upheld in modern judicial systems. Amnesty International reports that in 2008 "ninety three percent of all known executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA."In 2008, at least 2,390 people were known to have been executed in 25 countries, with Japan carrying out a total of 15 executions.

The US and Japan are two of the few industrialized nations that have capital punishment.

In 2002 the US Supreme court decided that the execution of the mentally ill equates to cruel and unusual punishment with the case Atkins v. Virginia. Unlike the US, the government of Japan has not taken any action to protect the rights of prisoners especially in their treatment of the mentally ill.

Amnesty's report states: "The exact number of death row prisoners with mental illness in Japan is unknown. Secrecy surrounds the death penalty and prisoners’ health and the lack of scrutiny by independent mental health experts has led to reliance on secondary testimony and documentation to assess the mental state of those on death row. The government has a policy of not allowing access to prisoners on death row and denied Amnesty International’s own request for access."

The abolition of the death penalty is one of Amnesty's current campaigns and the case in Japan displays the urgent need for action on the matter of capital punishment.

See the press release and report here -

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