Resolution Requesting the Public Attendant System for All Juvenile Cases
Attorneys who attend in juvenile hearing proceedings are involved in the proceedings from the standpoint of juveniles for ensuring appropriate findings of delinquencies and decisions of necessary measures. In addition, the attorney attendants coordinate circumstances surrounding the juveniles such as homes, schools, and working places in order to support rehabilitation of the juveniles. Most of delinquent juveniles have nowhere to go because they have been abused at home or they have been isolated at school, and they have not met reliable adults, which lead them to delinquencies. For rehabilitation of the delinquent juveniles, it is very important that in juvenile hearing proceedings, they are attended by attorneys who accept and understand them, provide legal and social assistance and support their growth and development. However, in 2005, only 4,358 (approx. 28%) were attended by attorneys among 15,476 juveniles who were alleged to have committed delinquencies and were detained by rulings to take provisional measures for care and custody before their decisions at family courts. This is a very low ratio.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has been voicing the importance of attendance of attorneys, promoting the nationwide legal aid system for attorney attendants of juvenile protection cases, and providing financial assistance from the Emergency Fund for Duty Attorney in order to enhance the system. In February 2001, the Fukuoka-ken Bar Association introduced the Attendant System for all juveniles who are detained, and other local bar associations followed the movement and started the Duty Attendant System. As a result, the number of juveniles who were attended by attorneys was increased by three times in 2005 from 1,500 in 1980s. However, the ratio is still low as mentioned before.
The JFBA had been urging that in order to substantively guarantee the right of juveniles to be attended by attorneys, the Public Attendant System be introduced for the juveniles whose financial founds are limited and the system cover all juveniles who are detained by rulings to take provisional measures for care and custody. The JFBA appreciates that these efforts resulted in the revised Juvenile Law enacted during the 2007 ordinary session of the Diet, which enables attorneys to be appointed by public money regardless whether there are disputes over delinquent facts.
However, the juvenile cases to be provided court-appointed attorneys are limited to certain serious cases, while for adults, court-appointed attorneys are provided for ordinary criminal cases as well and there is clearly a major gap. In 2009, the scope of the Public Criminal Defense System for suspects will be extended to the cases whose statutory penalties are penal servitude/imprisonment for maximum three years or more (hereinafter "necessary defense cases") in addition to the serious crimes. Therefore, although an attorney is appointed for a suspected juvenile, after the case is assigned to a family court, no attorney will be appointed in most cases under the current system.
Therefore, to avoid such a situation, the scope of the Public Attendant System should be extended at least for all necessary defense cases of juveniles who are detained by rulings to take provisional measures for care and custody. In addition, recognizing the importance of roles of attorneys in juvenile hearing proceedings, the Public Attendant System should be further extended to fully cover all juveniles who are detained. Until the full Public Attendant System is realized, the JFBA will take measures to ensure that an attorney appointed as an attendant of a juvenile is able to keep providing support for the juvenile even after his/her case is assigned to a family court. The legal aid for juvenile protection cases to support the measures also should be enhanced.
The JFBA will promote activities as below.
- The JFBA urges the state to immediately extend the scope of the Public Attendant System at least to cover all necessary defense cases of juveniles who are detained by rulings to take provisional measures for care and custody. In addition, the JFBA requests to realize the full Public Attendant System which covers all cases of juveniles who are detained by rulings to take provisional measures for care and custody.
- Until the full Public Attendant System is realized, the JFBA encourages all local bar associations to establish and enhance the Duty Attendant System to ensure that all juveniles being detained by rulings to take provisional measures for care and custody receive support from attorneys. The JFBA also makes every effort to extend the legal aid for juvenile protection cases.
- The JFBA provides various training for ensuring abilities of attorneys which are prerequisite for realization of the full Public Attendant System. The JFBA also requests local bar associations to provide training for their members.
- The JFBA enhances its activities to appeal the importance of attorney attendants to gain public support for realization of the full Public Attendant System.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
November 2, 2007 at the JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights