By on November 23, 2020

The United Nation Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a report on Monday stating that Carlos Ghosn’s extended detention in Japan was an unacceptable infringement on his rights — adding that the matter would be forwarded to the UN’s rapporteur on torture, cruel and other inhuman or degrading treatment.

While there are undoubtedly larger examples of human rights abuses inside the automotive industry — Volkswagen’s apparent reliance on Chinese slave labor springs to mind — Japan’s bizarre treatment of the former head of the Renault-Nissan alliance garnered plenty of attention. Accused of financial crimes relating to the Japanese automaker he formally chaired and was once praised for saving, Ghosn was subjected to repeated arrests and strict limitations on who he was allowed to contact. Despite his having fled the country in a form befitting of a secret agent, the UN is still claiming his treatment ahead of the repeatedly delayed trial was tantamount to abuse.

“The repeated arrest of Mr. Ghosn appears to be an abuse of process intended to ensure that he remained in custody,” Bloomberg reported the UN the panel as saying, noting that Mr. Ghosn had been arrested at least twice for the same alleged crime. “This revolving pattern of detention was an extrajudicial abuse of process that can have no legal basis under international law.”

From Bloomberg:

Ghosn and former Nissan director Greg Kelly were arrested in Tokyo on Nov. 19, 2018, and accused of underreporting the former chairman’s compensation. Both have denied wrongdoing. Additional charges were filed later accusing Ghosn of using company assets improperly, which he has denied.

Ghosn made a daring escape from Japan to Lebanon hidden inside a large box aboard a private jet in late December. It was, Ghosn argued defiantly in Beirut later, the only way for him to avoid what he called trumped-up charges of financial misdeeds concocted with the help of his former Nissan colleagues. His arrest and removal as chairman of Nissan, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shook the foundations of the automaking alliance he built and triggered management and operational turmoil.

“We welcome a courageous decision from an independent and respected authority, that undeniably establishes Mr. Ghosn’s detention was arbitrary, he was denied his right to impartial justice, and his treatment was unfair and degrading.” his lawyer, Francois Zimeray, said in a statement.

The UN panel went on to describe what it fears may have been coordinated attempts by Japanese prosecutors and media to make the ousted executive look guilty ahead of his trial during a series of arrests in 2019 and 2018. It also expressed concerns that he was subjected to repeated hours-long interrogations while having little-to-no opportunities to engage in confidential talks with his own legal team. Ghosn and his family had also previously made claims that Nissan had worked closely with the Japanese prosecution to make him look guilty as part of an elaborate corporate coup. It was their assertion that he would not receive fair treatment under the law, which is ultimately why he fled the country rather than await trial.

The UN acknowledged that none of this absolved him from criminal wrongdoing and that it could not condone his daring escape. That said, it still recommended there being an independent investigation into the circumstances of Ghosn’s detention and noted he probably has a right to sue for damages.

“Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law,” the panel explained.

While Nissan has declined to comment on the matter, the Japanese government expressed its dismay — calling the UN’s decision “totally unacceptable” offering no legal obligations. It suggested that the rights panel got things wrong when it claimed Ghosn was arrested four times without being brought before a judge and that delays in his trial were unavoidable.

Carlos is still hiding out in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan, so it’s unlikely that the UN’s comments will impact what happens to him. But it could help the ex-Green Beret and son (Michael and Peter Taylor) that helped smuggle him out of Japan. They’re currently being held in a Massachusetts jail fighting possible extradition to Japan, something their lawyers have claimed would open them up to unfair treatment and possibly torture. The UN’s assessment of Ghosn’s treatment may add weight to those assertions.

[Image: Plamen Galabov/Shutterstock]

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19 Comments on “UN Panel Decides Japan Violated Carlos Ghosn’s Human Rights...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Maybe the Turkish pilots can get a break, even though they’re essentially on house arrest:

    https://apnews.com/article/19dbcdf4354e5263373e9ac98baac76e

  • avatar

    Was it necessary to arrest and treat him as if he is a head of Mexican drug cartel (El Chapo comes to my mind). To keep him in 3rd world style prison until trial as if he would dare to run away if stayed at home. It is Japan, an island, you cannot escape from Japan unnoticed.

  • avatar

    You want to say that they eat dolphins? How you can drive Mazda after that?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      What is the alternative? Range Rover? British behaved badly in the colonies not that long ago.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t know…how do you drive anything German after the Third Reich?

      How do you drive anything British after all the colonial nonsense they pulled, up to and including helping prop up the apartheid regime in South Aftrica?

      How do you drive anything French after their colonial abuses, and after they collaborated with the Germans in WW2? Sweden collaborated too, so how would you drive anything built there?

      How do you drive anything Canadian after its’ treatment of natives?

      How do you drive anything American after the LONG history of human rights abuses here, including putting an entire race of its’ citizens in concentration camps?

      I guess the better question is…if you’re not going to drive a country’s cars because of its’ human rights record, how do you drive ANYTHING?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “I guess the better question is…if you’re not going to drive a country’s cars because of its’ human rights record, how do you drive ANYTHING?”

        I generally make distinctions based on how long ago it occurred and what the current situation is. For example I’m not going to boycott Massachusetts because of the Salem Witch Trials and I’m not going to boycott South Carolina because of the American Civil War. I am going to boycott places like China (as much as possible anyway) because they are doing things *currently* that I find abhorrent and they make it virtually impossible to separate their authoritarian government from their consumer products.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Valid point. But critics of this country could probably point to a lot of this country’s current or very recent conduct (a sitting president actively trying to torpedo a valid election he clearly lost, the whole “putting kids in cages” thing, Abu Ghraib, etc) to say THIS country is “currently abhorrent” as well. And if other took the “we won’t do business with abhorrent countries” stand, we’d suffer economically.

          By the same token, what happens if we flip the bird at Japan over this and say “we’re not buying your stuff anymore”? They end up aligned with someone else economically (think Russia), and that alignment may end up against us. In the end, we can screw ourselves royally by doing the right thing.

          Unfortunate reality…but true.

          I think that for better or worse, the will-not-do-business line gets drawn at “is this country actively seeking to harm us” or “is this country’s behavior so abhorrent that we just can’t do business”. There are countries that definitely fit that bill (Iran, North Korea, Syria, et al). That makes some sense. And then there are the “yes, they’re abhorrent, but by screwing them over economically, we’re going to screw ourselves” countries (China, Saudi Arabia, et al).

          All of this is definitely shades-of-gray stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Well, I think we are going to remain far apart on this one.

            I disagree with the moral relativism stance in comparing the US to China. I put them in the “is this country’s behavior so abhorrent that we just can’t do business” category. They are NK or Iran. They just happen to be an economic powerhouse as well. I would be willing to accept the economic opportunity costs of greatly reduced relations.

            For the minor power I have, I’ll certainly be voting with my dollars.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            Exactly Freedmike, and how about spying on and prosecuting journalists, and using the IRS against your political opponents, and opening up counterintelligence operations against the campaign of their candidate for President? Real banana republic stuff.

          • 0 avatar

            USA is a Devil!

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            @ILO, only for 56 more days. Utopia is coming.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            “sitting president actively trying to torpedo a valid election he clearly lost”

            US elections have 1,285 official prosecuted cases of voter fraud.

            “the whole “putting kids in cages” thing”

            Done by Obama customs management. And these “kids” are more dangerous than many homeless.

            “They end up aligned with someone else economically (think Russia)”

            You need to go back to history. In fact, these 2 fought numerous wars, and currently have not signed post WW2 accords, and officially are still in the war with each other, and have critical territorial differences. Yea, Japan-China union is also a no-no.

            “There are countries that definitely fit that bill (Iran…”

            I remember, we installed someone in Iran and then did business till 1979. We also in business with communist Vietnam. US does not have allies. It has only current interests.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The people who worked to free Ghosn should have faked their deaths shortly thereafter. I’m sure Carlos could have kicked in a little more cash to help do it.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Not surprising. But in a way, this illustrates a sad truth about our world today: people with money and connections are treated differently. If Ghosn was poor, he’d still be rotting in that jail.

    And as far as UN is concerned, if Ghosn wasn’t connected, do you think the UN would even have looked into this?

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I love that pic of Carlos.
    It’s like he’s playing Judge Smails in a remake of Caddyshack.

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