GUILTY! UN finds Japanese authorities violated human rights of Greenpeace anti-whaling activists
Press release - 8 February, 2010
The United Nations has ruled that the Japanese Government breached international human rights law by detaining two Greenpeace activists who uncovered major corruption in the Japanese whaling programme. (1)
One week before the "Tokyo Two", Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, stand trial on February 15th, it has been revealed that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) informed the Japanese Government that the Japanese justice system has violated the rights of the two men.
Junichi and Toru intercepted a box of whale meat labelled ‘cardboard’ as evidence of a large whale meat scandal in which whalers were skimming choice cuts of whale to sell on the black market, making money from a taxpayer-funded program. Investigations into the scandal were dropped as the Japanese Government made every effort to cover up the allegations of embezzlement and corruption, and the Tokyo 2 were arrested as criminals for ‘stealing’.
Cast as a straightforward criminal trial, the case nevertheless bears all the hallmarks of a political prosecution.
"Junichi and Toru were jailed for 23 days before being charged. They were subject to ongoing interrogation for eight hours daily bound to chairs, without their lawyers present, and without the interrogation recorded," Greenpeace CEO Dr Linda Selvey said.
The UN Human Rights Council found that the actions of Sato and Suzuki:
"…were in the greater public interest as they sought to expose criminal embezzlement within the taxpayer-funded whaling industry."
The UN Working Group concluded that:
"The right of these two environmental activists not to be arbitrarily deprived of their liberty; their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to exercise legitimate activities, as well as their right to engage in peaceful activities without intimidation or harassment has not been respected by the Justice system."
The UN Working Group found that the Japanese Government contravened articles 18,19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"The decision by the UN Human Rights Council offers the Australian Government an opportunity to apply more pressure on Japan’s whaling program by requesting that Japan re-open the investigation into the allegations of corruption in the whaling industry and call upon the IWC to launch an independent investigation into the whale meat embezzlement scandal," Dr. Selvey said.
"The Australian Government should also demand that the anti-whaling activists are afforded a fair trial in accordance with international law."
Contact: James Lorenz –0400 376 974
(1) The full Opinion of the Working Group can be found at: http://www.greenpeace.org/tokyo-two/wgad-opinion">
Images/Video: Abram Powell – AV Co-ordinator, 0409 812 641
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