GPS tags for defendants on bail mulled

By The Yomiuri Shimbun

An advisory body to the justice minister has proposed introducing a system to require defendants released on bail to wear global positioning system (GPS) devices to prevent them from fleeing abroad.

A subcommittee of the Legislative Council had been discussing countermeasures in response to the escape of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn while on bail, among other cases.

On Friday, it compiled a draft outline, which includes revisions to laws including the Criminal Procedure Code. Based on a report by the council, the Justice Ministry is expected to submit a draft of revisions to the law and other relevant laws to the Diet as early as next year.

Under the draft outline, courts will be authorized to order defendants to wear a GPS device while on bail if they are determined to be flight risks.

It also includes compliance rules that prohibit defendants from entering airports and damage or removal of the device.

Defendants will be taken into custody if the GPS data indicates a violation. There will also be penalties such as a prison term of up to one year for violating the compliance rules.

To protect the privacy of defendants, courts and other authorities will not be able to confirm the location of the person wearing the GPS tag unless a violation has been detected.

Defendants who are foreign nationals or those with the financial resources to escape will likely be among the people subject to GPS tag orders.

The draft also included prison terms of up to two years for defendants on bail who fail to return to their designated residences or fail to show up for trial without a valid reason.

It also proposed setting up a system in which the court appoints defendants' relatives as supervisors during the bail period and requires them to pay a bond.

There is already a system in place to confiscate bail bonds regarding fugitives on bail. However, strengthening relevant measures will be a challenge as there are limits to what can be done to prevent such escapes.

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