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September 12 2009 | JAPAN

Japan

Hanging by a thread: Mental health and the death penalty in Japan, Amnesty reports.

 
printable version

ANSA

PENA MORTE: GIAPPONE; AMNESTY, DETENUTI A RISCHIO PAZZIA

TOKYO, 10 SET - Amnesty International chiede ancora una volta al Giappone di porre fine alla pena di morte e denuncia il trattamento ''disumano'' riservato ai condannati, tanto duro che puo' portare alla pazzia.

    I 97 condannati a morte, in attesa ancora d'esecuzione nel Sol Levante, vivono nella paura permanente che ''il loro turno possa giungere da un momento all'altro - si legge in una nota - senza alcun tipo di preavviso. Coloro che hanno esaurito i loro appelli contro la condanna capitale non possono che attendere l'esecuzione giorno dopo giorno''. In aggiunta, le condizioni disumane di detenzione ''amplificano l'ansia e l'angoscia del prigioniero, spingendo molti in uno stato di malattia mentale''.    Tranne che per l'igiene personale, ai prigionieri non e' concesso di circolare nelle loro celle e ''devono restare seduti''.

    Il Giappone e' l'ultimo grande paese industrializzato, con gli Stati Uniti, dove la pena di morte e' ancora in uso: il Partito democratico (DpJ), che ha appena vinto le elezioni politiche generali, ha promesso di ''incoraggiare un dibattito nazionale'' sulla pena di morte.

 (ANSA)  Amnesty International

Japan continues to execute mentally ill prisoners

The government of Japan continues to execute prisoners who are mentally ill, according to a new Amnesty International report.

  Hanging by a thread: mental health and the death penalty in Japan highlights five cases where mental illness has been reported, including two cases with extensive medical documentation. These prisoners remain on death row facing execution.

  The exact number of death row prisoners with mental illness is unknown. The secrecy around the death penalty and prisoners' health, combined with a lack of scrutiny by independent mental health experts, has led to reliance on secondary testimony and documentation to assess the mental state of those on death row.

  The government has a policy of not allowing access to prisoners on death row and denied Amnesty International’s request for access.

  Amnesty International’s report also emphasises that prison conditions need to be improved to prevent inmates from developing serious mental health problems while on death row.

  Japan has signed up to international standards that require that those with a serious mental illness be protected from the death penalty. The country is contravening those standards by its failure to prevent the execution of prisoners who are mentally ill.

  As of 3 September 2009, 102 people are on death row in Japan waiting to find out if their government will put them to death. For those who have completed the legal process, death could come at a few hours' notice. Each day could be their last.

  The arrival of a prison officer with a death warrant would signal their execution within hours. Some live like this year after year, sometimes for decades.

  "To allow a prisoner to live for prolonged periods under the daily threat of imminent death is cruel, inhuman and degrading," said James Welsh, Amnesty International’s Health Coordinator and lead author of the report. "Amnesty International’s studies around the world have shown that those suffering mental health problems are at particular risk of ending up on death row.

  "Mental disorders can give rise to crimes, impair the ability of a defendant to participate in an effective legal defence, and are likely to play a significant role in the decision of prisoners to terminate appeals. In Japan, condemned inmates are also at risk of developing a serious mental illness while on death row."

  According to the report, Japan is breaching its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its treatment of prisoners on death row. Conditions in prisons are harsh and prisoners on death row are especially vulnerable to developing mental health problems due to being imprisoned in isolation with little human contact.

  Amnesty International is concerned that prisoners are not allowed to talk to one another – a restriction enforced by strict isolation. Contact with family members, lawyers and others can be restricted to as little as five minutes at a time.

  Apart from visits to the toilet, prisoners are not allowed to move around the cell and must remain seated. Death row prisoners are less likely than other prisoners to have access to fresh air and light and more likely to suffer additional punishments because of behaviour that may infringe the strict rules imposed on them.

  "These inhuman conditions increase a prisoner’s anxiety and anguish and in many cases push prisoners over the edge and into a state of mental illness," said James Welsh.

  The report calls on the government of Japan to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. It also urges the government of Japan to review all cases where mental illness may be a relevant factor, to ensure that prisoners with mental illness are not executed and to improve conditions for prisoners so that prisoners will not suffer declining mental health or the development of serious mental illness.

 

Agence France-Presse

JAPAN:  Amnesty: Japan's death row conditions breed insanity

 Amnesty International on Thursday said "cruel, inhuman and degrading" conditions facing death row prisoners in Japan were tipping many into insanity.

  File photo shows Japanese prison guards checks cells a Fuchu prison in Tokyo. Amnesty International on Thursday said "cruel, inhuman and degrading" conditions facing death row prisoners in Japan were tipping many into insanity.

  The London-based human rights group said 97 inmates were currently awaiting death by hanging in Japan, with no idea if or when they will be put to death, creating a state of uncertainty that creates enormous mental stress.

  "For those who have completed the legal process, they are forced to await execution every day, facing a sentence that could be enforced at only a few hours' notice," the group said in a report.

  "Each day could be their last and the arrival of a prison officer with a death warrant would signal their execution within hours. Some live like this year after year, sometimes for decades."

  In Japan, neither death row prisoners nor their families are informed in advance of when the execution will be carried out.

  Surveys suggest overwhelming public support for capital punishment, in a country where police boast a near-perfect conviction rate.

  The Amnesty report was issued as a new centre-left government prepares to take power in Japan, following its landslide victory over the long-ruling conservatives in elections last month.

  "To allow a prisoner to live for prolonged periods under the daily threat of imminent death is cruel, inhuman and degrading," said James Welsh, Amnesty's health expert and lead author of the report.

  "The treatment imposed on condemned inmates in Japan means that they face a high risk of developing a serious mental illness while on death row.

  "The treatment of prisoners on death row urgently needs to be improved to prevent inmates from developing serious mental health problems."

  Amnesty said it found that prisoners on death row were not allowed to talk to one another, and that contact with relatives, lawyers and others can be restricted to as little as 5 minutes at a time.

  "Apart from visits to the toilet, prisoners are not allowed to move around the cell and must remain seated," the group said.

  "Death row prisoners are less likely than other prisoners to have access to fresh air and light and are likely to suffer additional punishments because of behaviour that may infringe the strict rules imposed on them."

  "These inhuman conditions increase a prisoner's anxiety and anguish and in many cases push prisoners over the edge and into a state of mental illness," said Welsh.

 

 Amnesty International

STOP THE EXECUTION OF MENTALLY ILL PRISONERS, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGES GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN IN NEW REPORT

   The Japanese government’s continued practice of executing prisoners with mental illness is inhuman and must come to an end, said Amnesty International today with the publication of a new report on the treatment of the mentally ill sentenced to death in Japan.

  In Hanging By a Thread: Mental Health and the Death Penalty in Japan, Amnesty International condemned Japan's practice of executing mentally ill prisoners, which contravenes the international standards that Japan has signed on to that protect those with a serious mental illness from the death penalty.

  Currently 102 people are on death row in Japan waiting to find out if or when they will be put to death. Those who have completed the legal process are forced to await execution every day, facing a sentence that could be enforced with only a few hours notice. Each day could be their last, as the arrival of a prison officer with a death warrant would signal their execution within hours. Some live like this year after year, sometimes for decades.

  "To allow a prisoner to live for prolonged periods under the daily threat of imminent death is cruel, inhuman and degrading. The treatment imposed on condemned inmates in Japan means that they face a high risk of developing a serious mental illness while on death row," said James Welsh, Amnesty International’s health expert and lead author of the report.

  "The treatment of prisoners on death row urgently needs to be improved to prevent inmates from developing serious mental health problems."

  The exact number of death row prisoners with mental illness in Japan is unknown. Secrecy surrounds the death penalty and prisoners' health and the lack of scrutiny by independent mental health experts has led to reliance on secondary testimony and documentation to assess the mental state of those on death row. The government has a policy of not allowing access to prisoners on death row and denied Amnesty International’s own request for access.

  Amnesty International found that prisoners on death row are not allowed to interact – a restriction enforced by strict isolation. Contact with family members, lawyers and others can be restricted to as little as five minutes at a time. Apart from visits to the toilet, prisoners are not allowed to move around the cell and must remain seated. Death row prisoners are less likely than other prisoners to have access to fresh air and light and are likely to suffer additional punishments because of behavior that may infringe the strict rules imposed on them.

  "These inhuman conditions increase a prisoner's anxiety and anguish and in many cases push prisoners over the edge and into a state of mental illness," said Welsh.

  Amnesty International’s studies around the world have shown that those suffering mental health problems are at particular risk of ending up on death row. Mental disorders can give rise to crimes, impair the ability of a defendant to participate in an effective legal defense, and are likely to play a significant role in the decision of prisoners to terminate appeals.

  The report calls on the government of Japan to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. It also urges the government of Japan to review all cases where mental illness may be a relevant factor, to ensure that prisoners with mental illness are not executed, and to improve conditions for prisoners so they will not suffer declining mental health or the development of serious mental illness.

  Amnesty International urges the government of Japan to show a firm commitment to human rights by complying with international human rights standards.

  Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

 

AFP

Japon: la condition de détention rend fous des condamnés à mort (Amnesty)

TOKYO, 10 sept 2009 - L'association de défense des droits de l'homme Amnesty International a affirmé jeudi que les conditions de détention des condamnés à mort au Japon rendaient fous certains prisonniers.

L'association basée à Londres a rappelé que les 97 condamnés à mort en attente d'exécution dans l'archipel vivaient dans la crainte permanente, leur mise à mort pouvant intervenir sans préavis à tout moment.

"Ceux qui ont épuisé les recours doivent attendre leur exécution jour après jour", a expliqué Amnesty dans un communiqué."Chaque jour peur être leur dernier, l'arrivée d'un responsable avec l'ordre d'exécution signifiant que la sentence sera rendue à peine quelques heures plus tard. Certains vivent ainsi année après année, parfois pendant des décennies", dénonce l'association.

"Ces conditions de détention inhumaines augmentent l'anxiété et l'angoisse du prisonnier et poussent nombre d'entre eux à la limite ou dans un état de maladie mentale", a-t-elle souligné. Selon l'organisation, les détenus des couloirs de la mort vivent dans un isolement quasi-total. "A part pour se rendre aux toilettes, les prisonniers ne sont pas autorisés à se déplacer dans leur cellule et doivent rester assis", affirme-t-elle.

Amnesty a dénoncé l'absence de transparence des autorités japonaises sur l'état de santé mentale des condamnés à mort et regretté de ne pas être autorisée à les rencontrer.

Le Japon est le dernier grand pays industrialisé, avec les Etats-Unis, où la peine de mort est encore en usage. Les autorités justifient son maintien par le soutien dont elle jouit parmi la population.

Le Parti Démocrate du Japon (centre-gauche), qui vient de remporter les législatives a promis d'"encourager un débat national" sur la peine capitale.

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