2nd Issue of 2008 No.147

Mr. Ishikawa Speaks before the Human Rights Committee in Geneva

“I am innocent,” stated Mr. Kazuo Ishikawa in closing his speech at the meeting between the Human Rights Committee (HRC) and NGO representatives on October 15 in Geneva. The HRC organized the meeting on the occasion of its consideration and conclusion of the 5th Periodic Report of Japan on the implementation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Japan is a state party. In his speech, Mr. Ishikawa called for the disclosure of evidence in his trial, which is known as the “Sayama Case”. Mr. Ishikawa began his speech in English, saying, "My name is Kazuo Ishikawa," and gave the rest of his speech in Japanese. “I, Kazuo Ishikawa, was wrongly imprisoned for 32 years due to prejudice and bias against Buraku, which led to the accusation that I perpetrated the 1963 Sayama Case. Today, 45 years after the case began, I continue to assert my innocence.”

He continued, “The prosecutor has still failed to disclose even a single page of evidence, which could be stacked two or three meters high. I am now 69 years old. I have continued to claim my innocence from the time I was wrongfully convicted, and have struggled to exonerate myself. I came to Geneva to personally petition the assistance of the Human Rights Committee in requesting the government disclose all evidence in my court case.” He concluded his speech stating, “I am innocent.”


Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee


30 October 2008

16. While noting that in practice the death penalty is only imposed for offences involving murder, the Committee reiterates its concern that the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty has still not been reduced and that the number of executions has steadily increased in recent years. It is also concerned that death row inmates are kept in solitary confinement, often for protracted periods, and are executed without prior notice before the day of execution and, in some cases, at an advanced age or despite the fact that they have mental disabilities. The non-use of the power of pardon, commutation or reprieve, as well as the absence of transparency concerning procedures for seeking benefit for such relief, is also a matter of concern. (arts. 6, 7 and 10)

Regardless of opinion polls, the State party should favourably consider abolishing the death penalty and inform the public, as necessary, about the desirability of abolition. In the meantime, the death penalty should be strictly limited to the most serious crimes, in accordance with article 6, paragraph 2, of the Covenant. Consideration should be given by the State party to adopting a more humane approach with regard to the treatment of death row inmates and the execution of persons at an advanced age or with mental disabilities. The State party should also ensure that inmates on death row and their families are given reasonable advance notice of the scheduled date and time of the execution, with a view to reducing the psychological suffering caused by the lack of opportunity to prepare themselves for this event. The power of pardon, commutation and reprieve should be genuinely available to those sentenced to death.

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