Japanese death row inmates sue over ‘inhumane’ same-day executions

Two Japanese death row inmates are suing the government over the practice of same-day execution.

The inmates have demanded change in rules and sought compensation for the “inhuman” practice, their lawyer said Friday.

Both the prisoners filed a lawsuit in a district court in the western city of Osaka arguing that the practice was illegal because it did not allow prisoners time to file an objection. They have asked for 22 million yen (£144,000) in compensation, their lawyer Yutaka Ueda said.

Prisoners sentenced to death are informed only a couple of hours prior to their execution, which is conducted by hanging. This practice has been widely criticised by human rights organisations for the anxiety it causes those behind bars.

“Death row prisoners live in fear every morning that that day will be their last. It’s extremely inhumane,” Mr Ueda told Reuters.

He said that the practise goes against the country’s criminal code as there are no laws mandating that prisoners can only be told of their execution hours before.

“The central government has said this is meant to keep prisoners from suffering before their execution, but that’s no explanation and a big problem, and we really need to see how they respond to the suit. Overseas, prisoners are given time to contemplate the end of their lives and mentally prepare. It’s as if Japan is trying as hard as possible not to let anybody know,” he added.

According to the government, there are at least 112 prisoners on death row in the country but no one has been executed in almost two years.

“This system is badly mistaken – and we would like the public to turn their eyes to the issue,” Mr Ueda said, adding that he hoped the lawsuit would lead to a discussion in Japan.

In October, a 33-year-old death row inmate filed a lawsuit against the government demanding to use colour pencils, which is barred by the justice ministry’s directive.

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