UN Says Japan Violated Anti-Whaling Activists' Human Rights
Junichi Sato (left), Toru Suzuki (right), and their lead counsel, Yuichi Kaido (center) face reporters at a press briefing following their first pre-trial hearing at Aomori District Court in 2009. Caption and photo: Greenpeace
Nearly eighteen months ago two Greenpeace anti-whaling activists were arrested by Japanese police for stealing whale meat from a shipping company. Now a working group of the United Nations Human Rights Council has said the human rights of the so-called "Tokyo Two" have been violated by the Japanese justice system:Tokyo Two Uncovered Corruption, Got Arrested
The backstory: Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were investigating allegations of corruption within the nation's whaling program. Though the Japanese whaling program is claimed to be for scientific research, and funded by Japanese taxpayers, informers had said that cardboard boxes containing whale meat was being secretly shipped to the homes of whaling crews and then sold for personal profit.
After Sato delivered a pilfered box of whale meat to Japanese authorities and filed a report detailing the embezzlement going on, he and Suzuki were arrested and detained for nearly a month. The pair stand trial on February 15th, facing up to ten years in prison.
Activists "Arbitrarily Deprived of Liberty"...
But back to the human rights violations: The UNHRC working group concluded,
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.
Because of this the working group found that articles 18, 19, and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been violated. In addition, articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had be violated.
Prime Minister Could Order Re-examination of Charges
Commenting on the upcoming trial, Greenpeace head Kumi Naidoo said, "The decision to engage in this political prosecution was made by the previous government in Japan. The new administration can remedy the shame of this damning opinion by ensuring the trial will now be fair, adhering to international legal standards. Prime Minister Hatoyama must also order a re-examination of the original allegations made by the Tokyo Two."
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