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2010年8月24日 (火)

取り調べ可視化 海外調査を論議の出発点に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 24, 2010)
Open discussion needed on taping interrogations
取り調べ可視化 海外調査を論議の出発点に(8月23日付・読売社説)

The Justice Ministry will send prosecutors overseas to study the feasibility of introducing a system to make audio and video recordings of investigators' interrogations of suspects. The prosecutors will conduct research for a year on how recording systems function in the countries they visit.

The mission represents this nation's first comprehensive overseas research of such systems. Prosecutors will visit countries including the United States, Britain and France, as well as Germany, which has yet to adopt a recording system, and South Korea, which just introduced one.

The ministry should widely publicize the results of the research and consider what would be the most desirable form of recording system for this country.

Police and prosecutors have begun making partial audio and video recordings of interrogations conducted in connection with criminal cases tried jointly by lay and professional judges. Such records are meant to prove that confessions are not forced but voluntary.

As of June, DVD recordings of interrogations had been shown in six cases tried under the lay judge system.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations is calling for the entire interrogation process to be recorded, to prevent false charges from being brought. The Democratic Party of Japan called for the adoption of a full recording system in its campaign platform for the general election last August, and since the launch in September of the DPJ-led government, it has urged the ministry and the National Police Agency to look further into the feasibility of adopting such a system.


Different situation overseas

But the situation in Japan is different from that of the countries where recording systems are in place.

In Britain, suspects are usually interrogated once after being arrested and the questioning is said to finish within 30 minutes in many cases. Defendants also have a good chance of being acquitted in jury trials.

Furthermore, there is a plea bargain system under which suspects can receive lighter sentences if they admit crimes at early stages of investigations. Wiretapping and undercover operations are also permitted.

Plea bargains are common in the United States, where about one-third of the states record interrogations.

In Japan, investigators face suspects for long hours in investigation rooms, to conduct detailed questioning that spans from suspects' childhoods to the motives for their alleged crimes. In cases involving organized crime syndicates, investigators try to win over suspects and obtain statements implicating gang leaders.


Give investigators more tools

Many investigators have expressed concern about making audio and video recordings of the entire interrogation process.

It is important to prevent false charges. But at the same time, public safety should not be threatened because criminal cases are left unsettled with authorities unable to indict the real culprits. It is essential to reconcile these two goals when considering the introduction of a recording system.

Before the full-scale adoption of such a system, it may be necessary to consider the introduction of a new investigative process that facilitates such methods as court-approved wiretapping and sting operations, so police and investigators can collect material evidence in addition to statements from suspects.

As the lay judge system is now in its second year of operation, public interest in the judiciary has been increasing. Discussions about the introduction of an interrogation recording system should be conducted in the public eye.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 23, 2010)
(2010年8月23日01時18分  読売新聞)


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