Rights experts: Japan's handling of Carlos Ghosn was wrong

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020 file photo, former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn holds a press conference at the Maronite Christian Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, north of Beirut, Lebanon. In an opinion published Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, a panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations says former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan in late 2018 and has urged compensation and other reparations for him from the Japanese government. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, file)
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020 file photo, former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn holds a press conference at the Maronite Christian Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, north of Beirut, Lebanon. In an opinion published Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, a panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations says former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan in late 2018 and has urged compensation and other reparations for him from the Japanese government. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, file) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

GENEVA – A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."