JAPAN: AI concern over today's Supreme Court ruling

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11 Apr 2008
Region: JAPAN
Topic: Electronic Recording of the Interrogation Process
Amnesty International Japan condemns today's decision by Japan's Supreme Court 2nd Petit Court to uphold the convictions in the Tachikawa case as jeopardizing freedom of expression in Japan and violating international human rights law.
International standards and the Consitution of Japan guarantee the freedom to express any political views, even those critical of the government. Distributing leaflets describing a political viewpoint should be accepted by any society as a legitimate exercise of this right, if it is done peacefully. Japan has an obligation to accept this, and to comply with international standards as well as promoting their implementation. The government should not restrict this right using the excuse of protecting other rights.

The decision today supports the government's repression of its political opponents, and the convictions are a challenge to international standards. Amnesty International Japan is concerned that the Japanese law enforcement and judicial authorities still do not correctly understand their obligations in regard to human rights, as UN treaty bodies have repeatedly pointed out. The Japanese authorities should honestly accept recommendations made by treaty bodies and take steps to promote better understanding of international standards by law enforcement and judicial agencies.

National human rights mechanisms and individual communications procedures should be established in line with international standards to prevent human rights violations by government. Japan is not meeting these requirements and has not yet acceded the first optional protocol of the ICCPR. Amnesty International calls upon the Japanese government to take steps toward the accession of the first optional protocol and to set up a national human rights mechanism in accordance with the requirements of international standards.

The Tachikawa case was the arrest and prosecution of people who were peacefully distributing leaflets expressing political opinions. This repression aims to discourage people from taking part in social actions or expressing critical political views. Amnesty International fears that today's decision marks a clear step backward away from freedom of expression in Japan.

Public Statement
11 April 2008

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