Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amnesty Int'l discouraged by increased executions in Japan

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan expressed disappointment Tuesday that Japan not only continues to use the death penalty but that executions have actually increased, totaling seven since this January alone. At the launch of the human rights organization’s annual report in central London, an Amnesty Asia spokesperson expanded on Khan’s disappointment, saying, ‘‘We have been very discouraged by the increase in the number of executions in Japan over the past six months.’’

‘‘We will continue, both through our membership in Japan itself and internationally, to press the Japanese government to backtrack on this very alarming trend,’’ the spokesperson said, confirming there had been no response from the Japanese government to an open letter Amnesty sent it in April urging a cessation of executions.

The extensive 150-country report also raised ‘‘serious concern’’ that the daiyo-kangoku system of pre-trial detention does not comply with international standards and held Japan to account for its lack of action to resolve the justice issue surrounding the survivors of Japan’s World War II military sexual slavery system despite international pressure.

Japan was far from the only country to come under fire, with Khan remarking there has been 60 years of human rights failure around the world since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Khan challenged world leaders to recommit themselves to delivering concrete improvements to the global human rights situation.

‘‘2008 presents an unprecedented opportunity for new leaders coming to power and countries emerging on the world stage to set a new direction and reject the myopic policies and practices that in recent years have made the world a more dangerous and divided place,’’ Khan said, referencing the United States in particular as a country where ‘‘the most powerful must lead by example.’’