Provisional Legislative Proposal for the Realization of Government-Funded Legal Aid for Victims of Crime
March 15, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) prepared its “Provisional Legislative Proposal for the Realization of Government-Funded Legal Aid for Victims of Crime” and submitted it to the Minister of Justice on March 29, 2012.
The JFBA recommends that the contents of the Legal Aid for Victims of Crime services (hereinafter referred to as “Legal Aid”) which are currently entrusted by the JFBA to the Japan Legal Support Center (hereinafter referred to as “Hoterasu”), should be streamlined as described below. Moreover, it is requested that the Comprehensive Legal Support Act be amended in line with the following recommendations so as to have the government fund all expenses for Legal Aid, which are currently bar-funded:
1. Establishment of a free legal consultation system
A system should be established to enable victims of crimes stipulated in Article 17 of the “Act on Measures Incidental to Criminal Procedures for the Purpose of Protecting the Rights and Interests of Crime Victims”, for example, crimes by an intentional act that resulted in the death of a victim, indecent assault, and rape, to receive free legal consultation from attorneys from immediately after the occurrence of the crime until the end of the criminal trial, regardless of the financial resources of victims.
2. Government-funded legal aid
When it is determined through the free legal consultations that the assistance of an attorney is necessary, the victim should be allowed to apply for legal aid to be represented by an attorney, as is already conducted in the current system.
3. Legal aid activities that should be funded by the state
Activities that should be supported through government funds are as follows: (The following excludes the “allegation to the Committee of Inquest” currently offered in the bar-funded legal aid activities):
(1) Submitting an offense report,
(2) Filing a complaint/bringing charges,
(3) Accompanying the victim at questioning sessions,
(4) Attending/assisting at court hearings to view proceedings, attending/assisting in juvenile proceedings,
(5) Communication with the offender’s side as part of the process of restorative justice,
(6) Conducting settlement negotiations in criminal proceedings,
(7) Filing applications for financial compensation for victims of crime,
(8) Actively dealing / negotiating with the media, and
(9) Conducting activities necessary for supporting victims of crime, for example, protecting victims of domestic violence by bringing such persons to a shelter, and so forth.
4. Relationship with court-appointed attorneys at law for victims / civil legal aid
For the time being, activities which fall under the scope of the systems of court-appointed attorneys at law for victims / civil legal aid should be excluded from the above-described legal aid activities to be funded by the state. However, these systems should be made available together with the legal aid activities listed in Paragraph 3 above.