Authorities apprehended persons openly with warrants based on evidence and issued by a duly authorized official and brought detainees before an independent judiciary. Foreign observers continued to claim that warrants were granted at high rates, detention sometimes occurred notwithstanding weak evidentiary grounds, and multiple repeat arrests of suspects were used to facilitate police case building.
The use of police-operated detention centers placed suspects in the custody of their interrogators. Police sent arrested suspects to police detention facilities in most cases.
The law provides detainees the right to a prompt judicial determination of the legality of their detention and requires authorities to inform detainees immediately of the charges against them.
The law allows authorities to detain persons for up to 23 days without filing charges.
The law allows detainees, their families, or representatives to request that the court release an indicted detainee on bail. Bail is not available prior to indictment. Reliable NGOs stated that although the practice is illegal, interrogators sometimes offered shortened or suspended sentences to a detainee in exchange for a confession.
Suspects in pretrial detention are legally required to face interrogation. NPA guidelines limit interrogations to a maximum of eight hours and prohibit overnight interrogations. Preindictment detainees had access to counsel, including at least one consultation with a court-appointed attorney; counsel, however, may not be present during interrogations.
The law allows police to prohibit detainees from meeting with persons other than counsel if there is probable cause to believe that the suspect may flee or may conceal or destroy evidence (see “Pretrial Detention”). Many detainees, including most charged with drug offenses, were subject to this restriction before indictment, although some were permitted visits from family members in the presence of a detention officer. There is no legal connection between the type of offense and the length of time authorities may deny a detainee visits by family or others. Those detained on drug charges, however, were often denied such visits longer than other suspects, since prosecutors worried that communications with family or others could interfere with investigations.
National Public Safety Commission regulations prohibit police from touching suspects (unless unavoidable), exerting force, threatening them, keeping them in fixed postures for long periods, verbally abusing them, or offering them favors in return for a confession. While the Justice Ministry denied such instances took place, credible NGOs asserted that authorities did not adequately enforce the regulations and continued, in extreme cases, to subject detainees to eight- to 12-hour interrogation sessions during which authorities handcuffed them to chairs for the entire period and used aggressive questioning techniques. NGOs also noted that while physical force had become less common, authorities continued to use psychologically coercive methods to extract confessions.
Prosecutors, at their discretion, may partially record suspects’ confessions during interrogation. The most common type of recording is the yomi-kikase (read-aloud), in which a police officer is recorded reading back or orally summarizing a detainee’s confession. Authorities edit the recordings selectively, and courts therefore may not see any psychologically coercive tactics that reportedly often lead to confessions and related verbal summaries by police. Prosecutors’ offices and police increasingly recorded entire interrogations of some interrogations, but recording is not mandatory. While internal police supervisors increasingly were present during interrogations, there was no independent oversight, and allegations of confessions under duress continued.
The NPA announced it had received 459 complaints during 2014 about interrogations and confirmed 31 violations of interrogation guidelines. Police inspection offices imposed disciplinary actions against some of the violators, although the NPA did not release related statistics. Amnesty International urged reforms, such as the introduction of electronic recording of entire interrogations and prohibition of interrogation without the presence of legal counsel.
Pretrial Detention: Authorities usually held suspects in police-operated detention centers for an initial 72 hours. By law such pre-indictment detention is allowed only where there is probable cause to suspect that a person has committed a crime and is likely to conceal or destroy evidence or flee, but it was used routinely. After interviewing a suspect at the end of the initial 72-hour period, a judge may extend pre-indictment custody for up to two consecutive 10-day periods. Prosecutors routinely sought and received these extensions. Prosecutors may also apply for an additional five-day extension in exceptional cases, such as insurrection, foreign aggression, or violent public assembly.
Because judges customarily granted prosecutorial requests for extensions, pretrial detention, known as daiyou kangoku (substitute prison), usually continued for 23 days. Nearly all persons detained during the year were held in daiyou kangoku. Reliable NGOs and foreign observers continued to report that pretrial detainees were routinely held for up to 23 days before being allowed access to persons other than their attorneys or, in the case of foreign arrestees, consular personnel.
Protracted Detention of Rejected Asylum Seekers or Stateless Persons: Reliable NGOs pointed out that the policy of detaining asylum seekers and other irregular migrants for prolonged periods remained a problem. They noted improvements from the Ministry of Justice’s continuing efforts to streamline the asylum petition process and reduce time spent in detention.