Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law and the law on wiretapping, both enacted in 2016, were fully implemented at the beginning of this month, turning a new page in the reform of the criminal justice system that was triggered by a major scandal in 2010 involving prosecutors tampering with evidence in a criminal case and then trying to cover it up. Video recordings of the interrogation process of suspects — intended to ensure transparency and prevent false confessions — have become mandatory in cases subject to lay judge trials and those independently probed by prosecutors. Meanwhile, requirements on wiretapping in criminal probe have been eased as part of the steps to provide police and prosecutors with more investigation tools, such as the introduction of plea bargaining last year, in exchange for the tighter rules on interrogations.
Mandating the video-recordings of interrogations was a key reform intended to prevent false charges and convictions in the nation’s criminal justice system. Ahead of the mandating of such recording under the law, both the police and prosecutors have already begun video-recording their interrogation of suspects in 80 to 90 percent of the cases covered by the amendment — although they still account for a small portion of all the criminal cases they handle. On the other hand, the move by prosecutors to actively use recordings of interrogations as evidence in court has raised controversy.