English>Statements and Opinions>Statements>Statement by the President of JFBA Protesting the Illegal Installation of Security Cameras

Statement by the President of JFBA Protesting the Illegal Installation of Security Cameras

On the 4th of August, it was revealed by the press that the Oita Prefectural Police had entered without permission for the purpose of installing security cameras on the premises of the election countermeasures office of the opposition support group in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture around the day when the campaign season for the House of Councilors election in July 2016. While the Prefectural Police apologized for the unauthorized entry on the premises under the control of others, they only explained that the purpose for installing such cameras was “to grasp the activities of specified person(s) for a particular case of suspicion.”

However, the people are guaranteed portrait rights, and have a right not to be photographed by the police in principle unless required by law or a warrant granted by a judge. Exceptions are allowed only in circumstances where a crime is being committed or when it is not long after a crime was committed and the conditions of necessity and appropriateness are satisfied (the Supreme Court, Judgment, December 24, 1969), or in cases where video-recording is aimed at specific person(s) in public spaces to the extent it is necessary for the identification of persons strongly suspected to have committed a serious crime (the Supreme Court, Decision, April 15, 2008).

In particular, indiscriminate photographing and video-recording for facilities that can infer the freedom of thought and beliefs of individuals, such as religious facilities and facilities of political organizations, is illegal in principle. This is also obvious from the judgment of the Osaka District Court on April 27, 1994 (later finalized by the Supreme Court). The judgment is ordered the removal of security cameras installed by the Osaka Prefectural Police specifically for the purpose of monitoring (visual monitoring) without intention of photographing or video-recording a building used as a base for a labor movement.

According to media reports, the alleged fact in the present case was a violation of the Public Offices Election Act by specific public servants involved in election campaigns (according to Article 241 No. 2, imprisonment for a long period of 6 months or less or a fine of 300,000 yen or less), and the alleged fact did not involve any serious crime such as murder and robbery. Therefore, it cannot be said that there was a need for such a large-scale investigation. Considering the possibility that this could lead to an infringement of the rights that should be respected most in a democratic society, such as the freedom of political activities and freedom of expression of citizens, the harmful effects are enormous, and such illegal methods of investigation should not be allowed in the future.

Subsequently, the National Police Agency issued a notice titled “Regarding Strict Implementation of Appropriate Use of Security Cameras for Investigations” on August 26 of this year to the effect that investigations using security cameras are permitted to the extent necessary and if conducted in an appropriate manner.

The aforesaid notice makes it possible to freely carry out investigation methods that would infringe on the rights of privacy, freedom of expression, and other rights guaranteed by the Constitution at their discretion of the investigative agency, and there is a risk that human rights violations may become a norm in police practice. Therefore, the notice should be withdrawn.

In the “Opinion Concerning the Legal Restrictions on Security Cameras” dated January 19, 2012, the JFBA pointed out that installation of security cameras should be allowed only in compliance with requirements stipulated by law, and if they are to be used for the purpose of investigation, a law to effectively control such use in accordance with the principle of warrant should be established.

Hence, the JFBA points out that the installation of security cameras in this recent case is clearly illegal, protests, and express the opinion that a new law should be enacted to regulate for the installation and administration of security cameras.

September 14, 2016
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Kazuhiro Nakamoto, President

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