Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn’s detention in Japan was wrong, says human rights panel

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A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said on Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and urged the Japanese government for “compensation” .The Japanese government has denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” view that will not change the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published on Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 to be “arbitrary” and called on the Japanese government to “take the necessary measures to remedy the situation without delay. Mr. Ghosn’s situation. The determination of the arbitrariness of detention is based on various criteria, including international standards of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, after fleeing in a dramatic operation last year that made headlines around the world, opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms across the country and in the world. -of the. It could affect, for example, the eventual extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son, Peter, who Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old man of French, Lebanese and Brazilian nationality, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, saving it from near bankruptcy.

He was arrested in November 2018 for breach of trust, misuse of company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws by not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

Last December, Ghosn fled Japan to Lebanon while on bail pending trial, which means his case will not continue in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

Non-binding notice

The five-member task force of independent experts called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” into Ghosn’s detention and called on the government “to take appropriate action against those responsible for the violation of his rights. ”

The task force said that “the appropriate remedy would be to grant Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other remedies.”

The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but are intended to ensure that they respect their own human rights commitments. One of his earlier rulings concerned the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was also believed to have seen his human rights violated.

The human rights panel working with the United Nations has already issued a ruling in the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, also concluding that his human rights have been violated. (Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP / Getty Images)

The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a series of allegations by Ghosn and his representatives, such as being subjected to solitary confinement and lengthy interrogations day and night, and denied access to pleadings. His team claimed that Ghosn’s interrogations were aimed at extracting a confession.

The Japanese system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights defenders. The panel raised previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” detention and interrogation system which is heavily confessed and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “proper procedures” to the case and could not provide full information to the task force before a trial began. For this reason, the ministry said it would be inappropriate for the task force to make a decision on the Ghosn case “on the basis of limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.

“The opinion is completely unacceptable and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. He also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent and “encourage those who stand trial to accept the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the achievement of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country “.

“Japan can in no way accept the opinion of the Working Group on the case of the accused Carlos Ghosn”, he added.

Ghosn alleges a conspiracy

Ghosn’s attorney, Jessica Finelle, praised the panel’s “courageous” decision and said its members had been “tough on the Japanese legal system” and the way the Japanese authorities had treated Mr. Ghosn, “in particular , repeatedly violating his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media… ”

She said Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” of this opinion.

He “is sort of regaining his dignity because he was humiliated during the period of detention in Japan,” she said.

Ghosn accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block Nissan’s fuller integration with its French alliance partner Renault SA from France.

Ghosn’s lawyers filed a petition with the task force in March last year, calling for its role to review cases in which governments have allegedly wrongly detained individuals under international human rights conventions. ‘man.

Its members refused to speak to journalists about opinion, the UN human rights office said.

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