[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Oct 4 13:16:11 CDT 2008
At least 42 death-row inmates seeking retrial, civic group says
A survey by a civic group opposed to capital punishment shows at least 42
of some 100 death-row inmates in Japan have filed for retrials, with many
suspecting false charges against them, while 19 more said they are
planning to follow suit, the group said Saturday.
In the survey by Forum 90, respondents also revealed what was agonizing or
distressing to them. One cited the inmates' situation of not knowing when
they would be executed by the state until the last minute, while another
mentioned thinking about the victim of the crime, the Tokyo-based group
Forum 90 said it sent questionnaires to death-row inmates in detention
centers nationwide in late July through their families and lawyers, and
received replies from 76 people ranging in age from their 20s to 80s. The
respondents include 2 of the 3 people executed on Sept. 11.
According to the Justice Ministry, 102 people were on death row as of
Sept. 11. The Code of Criminal Procedure requires they be executed within
6 months of the death sentence being confirmed, but the 6-month period
does not kick in if, for instance, a retrial procedure is pending.
In the 10 years up to 2006, 30 people were executed and it had taken on
average 7 years and 11 months for the death penalty to be carried out. The
average period before being executed has become shorter in recent years
with inmates being executed at a quick pace since December last year.
A total of 13 inmates have been executed so far this year, the most in a
single year since 1999 when the government started announcing the number
of executions. Execution is by hanging in Japan.
Forum 90 said the results of the survey are still being compiled but that
nearly half the respondents said they are seeking help from chaplains of
some faiths, while many said they see doctors or receive drugs to maintain
On other aspects of life in detention centers, some cited improvements
after the inmate treatment law was instituted in 2005 following reports of
assaults on prison inmates by administrators at Nagoya Prison in 2001 and
2002. The provisions of the law on death-row inmates took effect last
year, while those on prison inmates came into effect the previous year.
Death-row inmates are put into "detention centers" until their execution,
rather than into prison where other convicted criminals serve time.
As examples of improvement, one cited the chance to meet and write to
friends, while another said the chances of getting physical exercise have
increased. Previously, visitation was limited to relatives and lawyers.
But others noted a shortening of periods for meeting visitors or reduced
opportunities to receive gifts such as books.
The results of the survey will be announced on Oct. 11 at an event to be
held in Tokyo to mark the World Day against the Death Penalty on Oct. 10,
the group said.
(source: Kyodo News International)
Justice Ministry should 'respect' rulings on executions, Mori says
Justice Minister Eisuke Mori supports the death penalty because it helps
maintain the social order and eases the mental pain of crime victims'
Though he was vague during an interview Wednesday on whether he will have
death-row inmates sent to the gallows, he said he will follow in the
footsteps of recent justice ministers.
His immediate predecessor, Okiharu Yasuoka, signed off on three executions
even though he held the office for only about a month, and Yasuoka's
predecessor, Kunio Hatoyama, ordered 13 executions during his 12-month
stint, the most hangings by a single justice minister since at least 1993.
Mori, who until now has never held a Cabinet post and effectively has no
legal background, also said the optimal interval between finalization of a
death sentence and execution is "in principle 6 months," although it tends
to be longer as defense attorneys normally file requests for retrials or
There are currently 102 inmates whose death sentences have been finalized,
a Justice Ministry official said, but he declined to say how many of them
have been waiting for more than 6 months.
"We should respect judges' decisions" in handing down capital punishment,
Mori said of part of the reason he believes the 6-month interval is
He added it may be better to set up a standard rule because "it's not
advisable that the number of executions varies depending on who is justice
Seiken Sugiura, who was justice minister from October 2005 to September
2006, ordered no executions because of his devout Buddhist beliefs.
There have been discussions on introducing a new sentence of life in
prison with no possibility of parole. Mori, however, said it would be
harsh to detain people without hope of being released.
(source: Japan Times)
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