Opinion Paper on the “Compiled Report in Relation to the Audio/Visual Recording of Interrogations of Suspects, by a Study Group within the Ministry of Justice”
December 15, 2011
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Concerning the “compiled report in relation to the audio/visual recording of interrogations of suspects, by a study group within the Ministry of Justice,” issued in August 2011 by the Ministry of Justice (“the Compiled Report”), the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) prepared its opinion paper on the Compiled Report dated December 15, 2011, and submitted it to the Minister of Justice and the chairperson of the “subcommittee on the criminal justice system in a new era” under the Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice.
Regarding such Compiled Report, the JFBA believes that the contents thereof are insufficient in the sense that the number of criminal cases to be put under audio-visual interrogations is too limited, and that the study group has taken a very passive attitude towards the audio-visual recording of the entire process of interrogations.
From the point of view of the smooth operation of the system, the JFBA agrees that it would be effective to limit the number of cases subject to audio-visualized interrogations at the initial (introductory) stages. However, the JFBA firmly believes that the audio/visual recordings of the entire process of interrogations should be applied to all criminal cases in the long run.
It is the JFBA’s opinion that the criminal cases regarding which the audio/visual recording of interrogations should be conducted immediately are as follows:
- Cases for which the trials are to be examined under the lay judge system
- Cases involving suspects having certain insufficient intellectual capabilities (or similar), and cases where certain issues brought about by such lack of intellectual capabilities are observed
- Cases involving juvenile crimes
- Cases involving foreign nationals, etc., in which an interpreter is required
- Cases regarding which the prosecutors have been conducting their own investigations based on complaints or accusations directed to the prosecutors or based on their own recognition
- Cases in which a suspect or a defense council has requested audio/video recording
The JFBA also suggests that audio/video recording should be introduced at the stage of interrogations conducted at the home of a suspect.