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UN torture panel blasts Japan justice system

[JURIST] The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) [official website] has issued a report [DOC text] criticizing Japan's justice system on a wide range of issues at the conclusion of its 38th Session [official website]. The committee expressed concern that Japan [JURIST news archive] needed to "reinforce the independence of [its] judiciary," by ensuring the security of judges' tenure, which currently lacks safeguards from political interference. The report, released Monday also raised concerns that suspects were not afforded sufficient due process protections, and questioned the use of confessions made under possible compulsion, torture, or after prolonged arrest or detention. The committee criticized Japan's statute of limitations for acts "amounting to torture and ill treatment," citing in particular the committee's concerns that petitions filed by victims of military sexual slavery, the so-called comfort women [JURIST news archive], and slave laborers [JURIST report] were dismissed because Japan's 20-year deadline for filing compensation claims had expired. The committee recommended Japan immediately suspend its executions [JURIST news archive], citing Japan's noncompliance with minimal international standards, including the unusual practice of maintaining uncertain execution schedules and notifying inmates of their executions only hours before they are to take place.

The committee, which is composed by a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text], periodically reviews reports submitted by parties to the convention. Japan became a party to the convention on June 29, 1999. CAT's next session is scheduled to begin on November 5. The Financial Times has more.

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