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Respect for Rights of Suspects

In the investigative phase, as in the testimonial phase, suspects have a number of moral and legal rights, including rights to the presumption of innocence, freedom, privacy, and life. They also have the right not to be assaulted or tortured, and not to self-incriminate (Wood 1996).[1] Under certain circumstances these rights can justifiably be infringed, for example, in the surveillance of persons reasonably suspected of committing serious crimes. However, such infringements are subject to stringent limitations and restrictions, for example, detention for questioning for only limited periods, and restrictions against the use of force to extract a confession.

According to the above-mentioned empirical study of officers in Victoria Police, many police officers under investigation suffer unnecessary and sometimes debilitating stress as a consequence of unduly prolonged investigations during the course of which they are not updated or otherwise provided with information that they are entitled to (Wood 1996).

  • [1] The right not to self-incriminate should be distinguished from the right to silence, albeit the latteris a means to realise the former. In some contexts, e.g. Royal Commissions, there is no legal rightto silence. However, often this is ‘balanced’ by a right to immunity from prosecution.
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