EDITORIAL: Audiovisual Records of Interrogations Should Support Efforts to Seek Truth

The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), May 2, 2014 | Go to article overview

EDITORIAL: Audiovisual Records of Interrogations Should Support Efforts to Seek Truth


To avoid false charges, how should the audiovisual recording of interrogations be conducted? A system that acknowledges the necessity to preserve investigative capabilities and effectiveness is being sought.

The Justice Ministry has presented a draft proposal at a subpanel of the ministry's Legislative Council, which has been discussing possible legislation for a system to increase the transparency of the interrogation process in the wake of a series of irregularities involving prosecutors. The draft proposal will become the basis for further discussion on the issue.

Central to the draft proposal is that when an investigator's record of an oral statement is used as evidence in court, audio and video recordings of the entire interrogation process should have been made.

The audiovisual recordings will be key materials when judges and lay judges determine in court whether interrogators forced suspects to confess or asked leading questions.

Regarding the proposal, there are concerns that suspects will be too conscious of audiovisual recording equipment to tell the truth, or will be reluctant to testify in fear of reprisals from organizations with which they are affiliated.

It is appropriate that the draft proposal permits exceptions for cases in which a suspect directly refuses audiovisual recording of the interrogation process, or where an organized crime syndicate is involved.

The next point under scrutiny is the scope of cases that will be subject to audiovisual recording. The draft proposal presents two alternatives. One is that use of audio and video recordings should be limited to cases that will be tried by lay judges. The other is for audiovisual recordings to be required for police interrogations for lay judge trials and all criminal investigations by prosecutors in which suspects have been arrested.

Recording scope under debate

As 3 percent of all cases are subject to lay judge trials, it has been pointed out that introducing the rules only for this category will lead to recording being used in too few cases. …

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