Friday, May 2, 2014

"Law change would tape interrogations"

VAOJ has been covering this issue of visualization for some time now. Here's the latest from The Japan News, 5/2/14:

Chart borrowed from The Japan News, 5/2/14

Proposed changes to the criminal justice system are likely to require investigative authorities to record audio and video of the entire interrogation of suspects, according to Justice Ministry sources.

The proposals advanced by the ministry call for the entire process of interrogation by police and public prosecutors to be recorded in what has been called the “visualization” of questioning in Japan. Every stage of interrogation, from the arrest of a suspect to his or her indictment, would be subject to recording.

The proposed system would also authorize plea bargaining, an agreement between the defendant and prosecution in which the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for concessions from prosecutors.

On Wednesday, the ministry submitted its proposals to a sectional meeting of the Legislative Council, an advisory panel to the justice minister. Most of the proposals were approved by the council’s special committee on the establishment of a new criminal justice system, the sources said.

However, the committee is still divided over whether recordings should be limited to criminal cases subject to trial by the lay judge system, or whether the proposed method should be applied to all crimes. This will likely make it difficult for the committee to reach a consensus on the issue, according to observers.

Another change advocated in the proposals is an expansion of the scope of cases in which investigators may be authorized to use wiretaps as part of their investigations.

The special committee is scheduled to draw up a final report as early as this summer, and then submit it to the justice minister in autumn. The ministry will seek to submit bills aimed at translating the proposals into action to next year’s ordinary Diet session, including one designed to revise the Criminal Procedure Code.

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