Implementation of PEACE Methods In Modern Justice Systems

Harita Vyas
Aug 14 · 4 min read

The Convention Against Torture (CAT) is a treaty under review at the United Nations that would effectively ban torture and other inhumane forms of punishment around the world. Thus far, a majority of nations have signed and ratified the treaty. The treaty aims to improve human rights and use nonviolent methods of communication, particularly in interrogations. Norway has attempted to alter its justice system by making its police officers utilize peaceful communication with suspects rather than aggressive tactics [1]. Research has found that using torture and other cruel punishments in efforts to gain a confession has led to false and unreliable confessions in the past due to the element of torture. These inhuman tactics have proved to be historically ineffective as well as immoral [2].

(https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-1013181689-03462-interrogation-room-dark-silhouettes-detective-interrogates )

The main basis for peaceful communication is having a sense of empathy toward a suspect rather than assuming they are guilty. The PEACE (Planning and Preparation, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure, Evaluation) framework was specifically developed for police about 25 years ago, and it intends to extend methods of nonviolent interrogations, investigations, and research around the world [3]. Because a significant amount of information is gained by police officers through interrogations, it is imperative to maintain a reliable method of communication between the two parties. This five-step interview plan sets up a structure that allows for the most accurate and reliable information to be obtained from the interviewee.

(https://courses2.cit.cornell.edu/sociallaw/student_projects/FalseConfessions.html)

The United States has one of the highest rates of false confessions in the world (approximately 1 in 4), where vulnerable populations such as juveniles are more likely to confess to a crime they did not commit [4]. “The primary psychological cause of most false confessions is … the investigator’s use of improper, coercive interrogation techniques” [5]. The common use of the “third-degree” as a tactic of interrogation in the 20th century led to many confessions — both true and false. The Reid process of interrogation is the modern interrogation technique used in the United States which utilizes intimidation and manipulative techniques, focusing on obtaining an incriminating confession rather than trying to determine what actually occurred [6]. In the process, American police officers may suggest that substantial evidence has been found or that there were eyewitnesses despite there being a lack of either evidence or eyewitnesses [7]. These immoral and manipulative tactics are commonplace in the American justice system, as well as other more aggressive and physical forms of interrogation.

The UK developed the PEACE model in order to create a system of interrogation that is more effective and reliable to gain statements that have not been coerced by the police. Other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Norway have adopted the PEACE model and implemented it in all investigative interviews and research [8]. The Anti-Torture Initiative and the Norwegian Center for Human Rights launched a three-year process (to end in 2020) to construct a set of guidelines on investigative interviewing and aim to reduce the risk of mistreatment and coercion that people face while in custody [9]. These guidelines would aid law enforcement officials all over the world to implement more peaceful interrogation techniques and refrain from the use of aggression in investigations.

Conclusion

There is a need for interrogation techniques to evolve into a more peaceful and reliable processes. Countries such as Norway and the United Kingdom are shifting in how they conduct investigative interviews and it is important to create an environment for those in custody that does not utilize coercion and results in reliable and consistent confessions. There is an inherent need for other countries to follow suit and adopt more nonviolent interrogation techniques. A culture that relies on accurate statements rather than gaining any confessions (true or false) will shape our justice system into a more reliable and fair one.

References

[1] “Empathy, not torture, most effective: Norwegian investigator.” UN News. October 2, 2017. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://news.un.org/en/audio/2017/10/633862

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Bringing Peace to the United States: A Framework for Investigative Interviewing.” Police Chief Magazine. November 2017. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.niaia.org/files/uploads/Schollum_PEACE.pdf

[4] “From Abuse of the Body to Abuse of the Mind: Police Use Psychologically Coercive Interrogation Techniques to Produce False Confessions.” Human Rights Defense Center. September 18, 2018. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.criminallegalnews.org/news/2018/sep/18/abuse-body-abuse-mindpolice-use-psychologically-coercive-interrogation-techniques-produce-false-confessions/

[5] Ibid.

[6] “The Reid Interrogation Technique and False Confessions: A Time for Change.” Seattle Journal for Social Justice. April 4, 2018. Accessed July 5, 2019.

https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1905&context=sjsj

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Developing International Guidelines on Investigative Interviewing and Associated Safeguards.” Association for the Prevention of Torture. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.apt.ch/en/universal-protocol-on-non-coercive-interviews/

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Harita Vyas

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