Last month a draft was released by the special investigation council on criminal justice system for reforming the existing one. It was compiled under the initiative of council's chairman, but many criticize it with disappointment and anger, raising a question 'for what, for whom the system will be reformed?' The draft diminishes sphere of visualization during police interrogation to an extremely small area. People claim that a false charge cannot be prevented by way of this kind of rule.
PROPOSED REFORM CANNOT AVOID FALSE CRIMINAL CHARGES
The draft announced by the chairman specifies on visualization of police interrogation scenes that: (1) voice recording and image filming should be entrusted to the side of interrogator, and (2) these tasks are an obligation as a rule with certain exceptions. The duties do not cover cases open to the lay judge system.
In a meeting of the council held January 18 several unfavorable comments were raised: the draft contradicts the objective of special council, the proposal cannot be regarded as a reform, and etc. Even major newspapers are critical, emphasizing to review the draft.
Case on PC Remote Control
Why is necessary full visualization of police interrogation? Recently a false person, a college student, was arrested as a suspect in the case on remote control on PCs in which he had allegedly sent a threatening message. This case is not dealt with by lay judges.
The incident happened in June last year. An e-mail message was sent to an elementary school saying that he would come up there with a hunting rifle and a knife to kill all. A university student living in Kanagawa Prefecture was called for interrogation at the police station. He denied the allegation of police which had reached him tracing the IP address.
He had been arrested but he had repudiated. Then, however, he not only 'confessed' the act but also wrote down the intricate screen name and its meaning as well as motives in the police report. He was placed under juvenile probation. Later the real criminal emerged and sent a mail message. The false charge was withdrawn.
How had he been interrogated at the police?
According to the verification of the police and prosecution authorities, the student was obliged to tell a lie; because he thought that he might back to university late and he might lose a job opportunity if his name was made public.
This fact again indicates a repeated incidence that a person in the locked-police-room is compelled to tell a lie after being accused.
The university student had demanded to check whether he could input for two seconds 250 letters in the message, but the authorities, regarding that he had confessed, took administrative procedures forward.
The above-said special council was set up to avoid a false charge in criminal justice: the authority rewrites a statement contradicting the objective evidence and conceals inconvenient facts.
Evidence Disclosure Law is Necessary
Legislation is necessary in order to eliminate a false charge; a law to oblige the authorities to disclose evidences. As for a charge on a Nepalese, Mr. Govinda, he was made a murderer who had killed a female employee of TEPCO, or Tokyo Electric Power Co. Later exculpatory sets of DNA evidence led him to a court order for retrial. But these evidences were not fresh but they had been withheld by the prosecutors.
This means that he would not have been convicted if these evidences had been presented earlier. Why had the DNA results not been submitted at trial by the prosecutors? Because a law is absent to force the authority to present proofs.
For what and for whom should a reform be made in the criminal justice system? A starting point is to prevent false charges. An urgent and necessary step is to institutionalize full visualization during interrogation and enact a law to impose obligation to present all evidences available.
February 19, 2013