In a bid to be more transparent to a public full of distrust with the justice system, a proposal to video record criminal interrogations is in the works in Japan. The proposal aims to prevent forced confessions of criminals put under severe pressure or, sometimes, even torture.
As presently interrogations do not require such recordings, but only a summary in writing of what transpired, many believe that such procedure is open and oftentimes abused by the authorities. Some lawyers and campaigners have suggested that their clients have been subjected to intimidation and even tortured by authorities to extract a confession. In recent times, some of the charged criminals have retracted their confession mid or even after the trial, claiming they had been forced to confess to a crime they did not commit. In spite of cases like these, not all of the advisers to Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki are convinced that recording interrogations is the solution. For all of Japan’s high-tech wizardry, prosecutors and police say such action is expensive and could also discourage acknowledgement of guilt.
Other developed nations, including Great Britain, some Australian and U.S. states, have begun recording theirs. In Japan, the question is not on whether they are capable of doing it, but the scope of what would be recorded. Some have suggested that recordings should only be done for cases tried by “lay judges,” roughly only 3 percent of all the cases that come to authorities annually. But as the proposal is still in the conceptualization stages, a committee will meet in autumn to come up with an official draft to be submitted to the Diet early next year.
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