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The Government of Japan's objection against the Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn

November 23, 2020
1 The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has recently adopted an Opinion that the measures applied to the defendant Carlos Ghosn, by the Government of Japan constitute arbitrary detention. The Opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding. On November 20, the Government of Japan made an objection against the Opinion adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

2 As explained in the written response to the request for information by the Working Group, Japan's criminal justice system sets out appropriate procedures and is administered properly to clarify the truth in criminal cases while guaranteeing the fundamental human rights of individuals concerned. In addition, detainees awaiting a judicial decision at institutions for detention receive treatments which respect their human rights. The criminal proceedings to be applied to defendant Ghosn do not violate the human rights treaties concluded by Japan, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Such criminal proceedings were carried out strictly in accordance with appropriate procedures stipulated in relevant laws while fully guaranteeing the rights of defendant Ghosn. Therefore, Japan once again emphasizes that the measures applied to defendant Ghosn cannot be considered as arbitrary detention.

3 Defendant Ghosn was released on bail by the decision of the Japanese court on conditions that he should not escape and hide and that he should not travel abroad. At the end of 2019, defendant Ghosn fled from both Japan and his criminal trial in violation of these conditions he promised to comply with. It is accepted under any nation's legal system that a suspect likely to destroy evidence and flee can be arrested and detained based on a warrant issued by the judicial authority. Flight from a criminal trial, in violation of the conditions a defendant promised to respect upon his or her release on bail, is not condoned under any nation's legal system.

In addition, under Japanese law, in order to protect the rights of the people concerned in criminal proceedings, Japan cannot provide to the Working Group information related to investigations and trials concerning any cases, including that of defendant Ghosn, before commencement of a trial. Japan explained such situation and pointed out that it would be inappropriate for the Working Group to make a decision regarding the case of defendant Ghosn, who had illegally fled, based on limited information and biased allegations from the source.

Japan therefore deeply regrets that the Working Group continued to consider the case and rendered opinions based on limited information and biased allegations from the source, not based on accurate understanding on Japan's criminal justice system.

The Working Group has emphasized "that it expresses no view on the circumstances in which defendant Ghosn fled the jurisdiction of the Japanese authorities, and that its opinion should not be construed as condoning or offering any justification for such a departure." However, defendant Ghosn was arrested and detained based on a warrant issued by the court because he was considered likely to destroy evidence and flee. Defendant Ghosn then proceeded to actually flee the criminal trial itself. Given the situation, the very fact that the Working Group considers the case of defendant Ghosn as "arbitrary detention" would encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.

4 The Opinion is totally unacceptable as it contains obvious factual errors, including the following points.
  • The opinion that, following his arrests, defendant Ghosn was held for periods of 22 days, 10 days, 19 days, and 21 days respectively without being brought before a judge.
  • The opinion that the provision of opportunities for defendant Ghosn to challenge his detention before a court was delayed.
Regarding this point, the Government of Japan will provide to the Working Group additional information to the extent possible under the Japanese legislation, and correct the factual errors.

5 For the reasons above, Japan can by no means accept the Opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn. Japan continues to properly administer its criminal justice system.

An opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is neither a view of the United Nations nor that of Human Rights Council. Its opinion is not legally binding.
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