Japan: The death penalty: summary of concerns

Some 90 people are currently imprisoned under sentence of death in Japan, 53 of whom have had their sentences confirmed by the Supreme Court and could be executed at any time. Six prisoners were executed in 1996, in conditions of extreme secrecy. There is concern at allegations of ill-treatment in pre-trial detention and possibly unfair trials. Some of those sentenced to death have been imprisoned for many years, often in isolation. Conditions for condemned prisoners are extremely harsh. There is further concern that those executed appear to be selected arbitrarily from among those whose sentences have been confirmed. Families are not informed in advance of the execution. Amnesty International is calling on the government to take steps towards abolition, including an immediate moratorium on sentences and executions, instituting a public and parliamentary debate on the death penalty, ending the secrecy surrounding executions and improving the conditions of detention for those under sentence of death.

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