Amnesty International on Thursday accused Japan's government of flouting international norms by executing in 2017 death row inmates who were seeking retrials.

The human rights organization noted that for the first time since 1999 Japan executed people whose appeals for retrial were pending before the courts. This was the case in three of the four executions in the country last year.

Speaking at the release of the group's annual death penalty report, Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International's adviser on the death penalty, said, "What was noticeable last year was that the government breached some of its own practices as we saw people who were applying for a retrial being executed.