Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Juvenile Law Reform

"A bill to allow victims of juvenile crimes to sit in court galleries to watch the trials of the young perpetrators became law on Wednesday.

"The House of Councillors approved the bill to amend the Juvenile Law at a plenary session on Wednesday. The ruling coalition, comprising of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, as well as the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) voted for the bill.

"Serious offenses that lead to the death or serious injury of victims are subject to the new provision in the law.

"Family courts are required to decide whether to allow victims or bereaved families to sit in court galleries judging from the mental state and other conditions of the perpetrators.

"The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and other organizations voiced opposition to the amendment saying it would run counter to the purpose of juvenile trials in helping teenage offenders rehabilitate themselves.

"In response, the DPJ requested that the bill be modified to disallow victims and bereaved families from sitting in court galleries if the perpetrators are aged below 12 and to require family courts to interview defense lawyers for teenage perpetrators before deciding whether to allow victims to attend juvenile trials.

"The ruling coalition complied with the requests."

By Mainichi Shimbun (6/11/2008), Link to article (last visited 6/11/2008)

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