Establishing a New Criminal Justice System that Goes with the Times
With regard to the criminal justice system, a variety of reforms, including the introduction of the Saiban-in (lay judge) system, have been advanced as part of the reform of the judicial system. On the other hand, discussions on the reform have highlighted some problems, such as the ways of procedures for investigation and trial adaptable to the new era, still remaining as the agenda to be examined in the future.
In these situations, some questions have been raised on the criminal justice system that investigations and trials may be too dependent on interrogations and confession statements. In order for the system to fully achieve the goal of ensuring the safe and secure livelihood of the people, it is necessary to examine diverse issues and to build a new criminal justice system, based on such suggestions.
In May 2011, for the purpose of establishing a new criminal justice system that goes with the times, the Minister of Justice called on the Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice to deliberate how to develop the substantive criminal law and procedural law relating to criminal cases, including the review of the modality for investigation and trial that are too dependent on interrogations and confession statements, and the introduction of a system to keep a record of interrogations of suspects by means of audio and video recording.
The Council delivered two principles -the moderation and the diversification of evidence-gathering as well as the improvement of trial procedure- and the report was submitted to the Minister in September 2014. The report raised nine items necessary for the new criminal justice system: i) introducing the audiovisual recording system of interrogations, ii) introducing the prosecutorial agreement system for cooperation in investigations and trials, and testimonial immunity system, iii) rationalizing and streamlining the interception of electronic communication, iv) introducing guiding provision regarding the judgment of confinement, v) improving legal assistance by defense counsels, vi) broadening information disclosure system, vii) enhancing the protective measures for protecting victims and witnesses, viii) introducing measures to secure the authenticity of evidence presented to courts, and ix) introducing measures to simplify and accelerate trials when defendants admit their guilt. The council recommends all the items be incorporated into the present criminal justice system.
The Ministry of Justice will develop a set of processes for the development of legal systems based on this report.