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2013年1月22日 (火)

刑事司法改革 冤罪防止と捜査力向上を図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 22, 2013)
Reform investigative system to prevent false charges
刑事司法改革 冤罪防止と捜査力向上を図れ(1月21日付・読売社説)

To regain public trust, prosecutors and police should establish a system to prevent false accusations and enhance investigative capabilities.

A subcommittee of the Justice Ministry's Legislative Council, which studied reform of the criminal justice system following a series of scandals involving prosecutors, has compiled a set of recommendations. On the basis of these proposals, the council will work out how to reform the criminal justice system.

It is appropriate that the panel recommended the introduction of audiovisual recordings of interrogations, a major point at issue.

Interrogations in closed rooms could induce investigators to lead suspects into making false confessions, resulting in wrongful accusations.

In a recent case, innocent people who were wrongly arrested on suspicion of sending online threats via their personal computers, which were later found to have been infected with a virus that allowed a third party to control them remotely, were forced to write statements confessing to crimes they did not commit.

If audiovisual recordings are made during the questioning of suspects, interrogations can be verified by replaying recorded scenes. This would be effective in deterring high-handed investigations.


Recording interrogations

The main sticking point is how much of the interrogations should be audiovisually recorded. To ensure these interrogations can be examined thoroughly, wide coverage is desirable.

On the other hand, it is possible suspects involved in organized crime may hesitate to testify for fear of retaliation, making it difficult for investigators to solve crimes.

It is understandable for the panel to suggest in its draft that a system should be devised to exclude audiovisual recordings of interrogations of suspects that could hinder investigations.

In deciding when and in what cases recordings should be excluded, it is important to analyze the results of audiovisual recordings of interrogations that have been conducted on a trial basis by prosecutors and police.

The panel also proposed ways to collect evidence that would prevent investigators from relying on interrogations too much.


Expand wiretapping

One method is an expanded use of wiretapping. Under the current law, wiretapping is allowed for certain crimes, such as those involving drugs and firearms. However, the number of cases in which this was permitted has been extremely limited.

The draft proposes an expansion of wiretapping to cover new and fast-rising types of organized crime, such as bank transfer scams. This recommendation is appropriate to ensure public safety.

The panel has also proposed that plea-bargaining, which is widely used in the United States and Europe, should be studied further.

In plea-bargaining, prosecutors would seek a lesser punishment or decide not to prosecute if suspects reveal crimes committed by their accomplices.

While plea-bargaining is expected to win the cooperation of suspects, there is a possibility the victim of a crime would not understand if a suspect received a punishment not commensurate to the crime.

We hope the issue of whether to introduce such methods will receive in-depth discussion.

Also, it is urgent to review so-called hostage justice, under which suspects who deny the charges against them remain in custody. Depriving suspects of their freedom for a protracted period could pressure them into making confessions, one of the factors that have led to false accusations.

Proper rules on the custody of suspects must be drawn up.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 21, 2013)
(2013年1月21日01時50分  読売新聞)


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