Rights of the accused

We wish to thank “Nichibenren” for granting permission to quote the following excerpt from their web site at http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/activities/meetings/20030718.html “Japan’s procedure below the international standard.

The UN Human Rights Committee examined the degree of Japan’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In its concluding observations adopted in November 1998, the Committee urged Japan to reform its criminal justice system. The Committee expressed grave concern that Japan’s criminal justice system contravened human-rights protections guaranteed to criminal suspects by the Covenant, pointing out the facts that: pre-indictment suspects were detained for as long as 23 days and were refused rights to seek release on bail; there was no restriction on when and how long interrogations of suspects were conducted; and interrogations were conducted without the presence of attorneys. In many countries including the U.S., Russia and European countries such as the U.K., France and Italy, suspects are entitled to demand the presence of attorneys during interrogations. It, therefore, can be argued that this is a minimum standard of treatment for suspects.”

The current Japanese law does not permit a defense lawyer to be present during interrogation of a suspect at any time. During interrogation by investigators and the prosecutor, a statement is written by the investigator or prosecutor. It is not uncommon for the prepared statement to be inconsistent with the actual verbal statements. In many cases the written statement is prepared in a manner that takes the suspects verbal replies out of context to imply guilt. This is not meant to imply that there is malicious intent on the part of the investigator or prosecutor.

In the case of foreigners, this is compounded as the statement is written in Japanese, and verbally translated back to the suspect in his or her native language. Slang’s are misinterpreted and the context of the suspects’ verbal responses, are in many cases misrepresented. The suspect is led to believe that he or she must sign this statement before the interrogation session will be concluded. An important right of the suspect which may not be conveyed by the investigators or prosecutor is that as a suspect you have the right to demand that your lawyer review the written statement before you sign it.

Please note that the lawyer may not be present during the actual interrogation. If you have a family member or friend who is arrested under the Cannabis Control law or are interested on more background and research information please click on the following link for more information:

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