Buraku Liberation News, March 1998 issue (No.101)

2.The IMADR Submitted a Resolution to Demand the Full Disclosure of All Evidence and a Fair Retrial of the Sayama Case to Japan's MOJ.

The International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), an international non-governmental human rights organization, submitted on December 5, 1997, its appeal resolution concerning the Sayama case to the Japanese Ministry of Justice. The resolution was handed over by Mr. Kinhide Mushakoji, IMADR Secretary General and Director, Mr. Shigeyuki Kumisaka, BLL Secretary General and IMADR Director and Mr. Taketoshi Nakayama, member of the Sayama lawyers' group, to Mr. Akio Harada, Criminal Affairs Bureau Director of the Ministry.

At the meeting, Mr. Mushakoji expressed his concern that attorneys in Japan do not have the right of access to information in police records and advised that the right to a fair trial as provided by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should be guaranteed.

The draft resolution demanding the full disclosure of all evidence and a fair retrial of the Sayama case was adopted at the 10th Session of the Board of Director's Meeting, 26-27 October 1997 in Heidelberg, Germany. The main contentions of the resolution for appeal read as follows.

Upon the request of the National Headquarters of the Buraku Liberation League, a major organizational member of IMADR, we, under the name of the 10th session of the Board of Director's Meeting, respectfully urge the Tokyo District High Court and Tokyo High Prosecutor's Office to take immediate actions on the following matters.

Mr. Kazuo Ishikawa, who is a defendant of the Sayama Case of 1963 involving a girl who was kidnapped and murdered, is belonging to Burakumin who still face serious discrimination. The police, hunting for a criminal in a prejudicial manner against Burakumin, arrested Mr. Ishikawa on a minor charge, and allegedly forced him to falsely confess "guilty". As a result he was sentenced to death in the first ruling, to life imprisonment in the second and third rulings.

11 years and two months have passed since Mr. Ishikawa filed a plea of retrial with the Tokyo District High Court in August 1986. In the course of time, his attorneys not only submitted many evidential documents to prove his innocence, but also repeatedly demanded to ensure a fair retrial for him, to conduct investigation for fact-finding, and to disclose all evidence possessed by the Tokyo High Prosecutor's Office.

To express support for this action taken by Mr. Ishikawa and his attorneys, approximately 1.18 million people signed the petition including more than 330 chief executives of local governments and famous scholars and artists.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Committee, a supervising body to the International Covenant on the Civil and Political Rights, having reviewed in November 1995 the third national report submitted by Japan, expressed its concern that Article 14 of the Covenant concerning the right to a fair trial was not fully guaranteed and recommended that necessary and sufficient service be given to defending lawyers.

However, no action has been taken so far with regard to the plea made by the attorneys of the Sayama Case.

Nevertheless, the government of Japan, in its fourth report submitted to the aforementioned Committee in June 1996, stated that evidence was disclosed to defending lawyers to guarantee the right to a fair trial. But this is contrary to the facts, so far as the Sayama Retrial Case is concerned.

All members of IMADR, committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and creation of a fair society, share the grave concern whether Mr. Ishikawa be guaranteed a fair retrial. And in this connection, we strongly urge the Tokyo District High Court and Tokyo High Prosecutor's Office to take immediate actions necessary to comply with the international human rights standards as addressed in the International Covenant on the Civil and Political Rights to which Japan is also a state party, more specifically to conduct a full investigation and to disclose all evidence.