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16th April 2018, 15:55:49 UTC

The execution of 13 members of Aum Shinrikyo could be carried out any moment.

The 13 Aum Shinrikyo cult members were convicted and sentenced to death in separate trials between 2006 and 2011, for their respective roles in orchestrating and carrying out a sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway in 1995 and other illegal activities, are now at risk of execution.

Japan has been carrying out between one to 15 executions per year for past three decades except in 2011, when no one was executed.

Those at risk of execution are Seiichi Endo, Satoru Hashimoto, Kiyohide Hayakawa, Yasuo Hayashi, Kenichi Hirose, Yoshihiro Inoue, Chizuo Matsumoto (also known as Shoko Asahara), Kazuaki Miyamae, Tomomasa Nakagawa, Tomomitsu Niimi, Toru Toyota, Masami Tsuchiya and Masato Yokoyama.

Secret executions

Japan has been criticised for carrying out secret executions, which are in contravention of international law and standards on the use of the death penalty.

Mental health

Psychiatrists hired by the lawyers for the guru, Chizuo Matsumoto (also known as Shoko Asahara) raised concern about the deterioration of his mental health caused by detention in 2005 and 2006. Prisoners on death row are not allowed to talk to one another – a restriction enforced by strict isolation. Japan does not effectively assess the mental health state of prisoners’ fitness for execution. According to one of Chizuo Matsumoto’s daughters, for the past ten years no one outside including his family and lawyers were able to meet him which makes it even harder to understand his mental state. Japan continues to sentence to death and execute prisoners with mental and intellectual disabilities which is a clear violation of international law and standards.

Appeals and retrials

Among the 13, a number of them are seeking retrials, but they may be executed before the court completes the examination of their requests. Execution of individuals with appeals or other proceedings still pending is against the UN Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Take action to stand against the execution of these thirteen people.

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