Sunday, February 10, 2008

JAPAN:bill proposing a four-year moratorium on the death penalty

Japan MPs moot halt to executions
By Andre Vornic
BBC East Asia reporter

Japanese Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama
Justice minister Kunio Hatoyama supports the death penalty
A cross-party group of Japanese legislators has said it has drafted a .

The bill, a step towards abolition, will shortly be submitted to parliament and introduces life imprisonment without parole as a substitute.

Japan and the United States are the only industrial democracies to maintain capital punishment.

But the initiative is likely to meet stiff opposition.

Secret executions

Critics have long described Japan's use of the death penalty as unworthy of a liberal democracy.

Shoko Asahara (archive image)
Cult leader Shoko Asahara is on death row

As much as the principle of it, the way the death penalty is administered has been condemned both domestically and abroad: death row inmates are executed at short notice, to deter appeals.

They are put to death by hanging, generally on a Friday and during parliamentary recess to avoid media exposure or public opposition.

At the trial stage, defendants may not have easy access to a lawyer, and the prosecutorial system tends to value confessions above evidence.

Abolitionist parliamentarians appear to think the time is right for reform.

But the current Justice Minister, Kunio Hatoyama, is a vocal supporter of capital punishment. He has signed off six executions since taking office last September.

And surveys suggest a majority of Japanese want to retain the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes.

The country's violent crime rate remains low by global standards, but has risen considerably since the mid-1990s.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Govt abandons monkey export plans

Govt abandons monkey export plans
Feb 2, 08 3:25pm

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has abandoned its controversial plan to export monkeys found in urban areas after a majority of them were found to be infected with deadly diseases.

According to NST, minister Azmi Khalid said the decision was made after the discovery that about 80 percent of urban monkeys had contracted diseases and were deemed unfit for export.

In August last year, the government said it would end a 23-year-old ban on trading monkeys for research and food as well as conducting talks with several countries including Japan for possible export.

amir muhammad apa khabar orang kampung 220207 monkeyHowever, animal rights groups objected and said the monkeys would be sold to laboratories for a profit benefitting the minister instead.

Yesterday, Azmi said that about 80 per cent of the 250,000 long-tailed macaques found in urban areas were found to have deadly diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and Aids.

He said the export was to fulfil the demand for exotic meat in a few countries in Asia and in the west.

"A study of 2,000 macaques in urban areas conducted several months ago found that 80 per cent of them were infected.

"Only 20 per cent were healthy, and of this, only half the number were suitable for export," he said adding that the diseases could possibly spread among the human population.

Relocation programmes

According to veterinary experts, humans could be infected with diseases carried by the monkeys if there was close contact.

Monkeys could also be infected with diseases contracted from humans if the animals licked human spit.

azmi khalid 03Azmi added that the ministry feared that the move to export monkeys would encourage companies to hire agents to seize the monkeys which might lead to uncontrolled hunting of the animal.

Veterinary experts have previously called for relocation programmes, reproduction controls and public education to stop residents from feeding or teasing the animals.

They also opine that the monkey problem occurred in many major cities throughout the country due to the massive destruction of forests that has pushed the wildlife to seek shelter and food in urban areas.

The monkey population in the country is about 700,000, with 250,000 in urban areas.

The monkeys usually found at the urban areas include the long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques, and the leaf monkey.