11/10/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Amnesty International: Japan Must Stop Executing Mentally Ill Prisoners

Though Japan has a national policy against allowing visitors access to death row inmates, Amnesty International's latest report, "Hanging By A Thread," details five cases where current death row inmates in the nation have documented mental illness. The report aims to inspire international outrage and calls on Japan to take the following steps:

  • Improve conditions on death row
  • Refrain from executing mentally ill prisoners
  • Decrease the strict isolation under which prisoners are currently detained

Another bit of shocking information. Japan is not just one of the only industrialized nations to still utilize capital punishment, but sentences are still carried out by hanging.

From Amnesty International:

"To allow a prisoner to live for prolonged periods under the daily threat of imminent death is cruel, inhuman and degrading," said James Welsh, Amnesty International's Health Coordinator and lead author of the report. "Amnesty International's studies around the world have shown that those suffering mental health problems are at particular risk of ending up on death row.

"Mental disorders can give rise to crimes, impair the ability of a defendant to participate in an effective legal defence, and are likely to play a significant role in the decision of prisoners to terminate appeals. In Japan, condemned inmates are also at risk of developing a serious mental illness while on death row."

Amnesty International frequently updates their list of desired actions. You can also read previous reports on alleged human rights abuses in Nepal, Iran, Burma and Sudan.

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