Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Activists urge creation of standards for polygraphs

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Clear standards for the administration and use of polygraph tests should be established, activists from the Judicial Reform Foundation said yesterday, alleging that inappropriately administered polygraphs have led to unjust verdicts.

“People with irregular heartbeats or an IQ of less than 70 have been subjected to polygraph tests, but those conducting the tests were not forced to stop and have not been disciplined or required to undergo retraining,” foundation chairman Joseph Lin (林永頌) said.

“After these individuals return [from several months of training in the US], no one supervises whether tests are administered correctly,” he said.

Taiwan Association for Innocence executive director Lo Shih-hsiang (羅士翔) said that when there is a shortage of other evidence, the results of polygraph tests often become crucial to whether a guilty verdict is issued.

However, tests are sometimes inappropriately administered, leading to unreliable results, he said, citing the case of former airman Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶).

Chiang was executed in 1997 for the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl, only to be acquitted in a posthumous 2011 trial after the Control Yuan found that he had been tortured by military investigators before a speedy military trial.

Lo said that a failed polygraph test was a major factor in investigators targeting Chiang, despite his innocence.

There have also been cases in which test results were submitted to courts despite subjects’ physical conditions, which can affect results, activists said.

In some cases, the amount of sleep subjects had before taking the test was exaggerated, activists said, adding that there have been cases where results were submitted despite subjects’ irregular heartbeats.

There has also been at least one case where a polygraph test was administered to a mentally disabled person, who was unable to fully comprehend the import of the questions asked, they said.

Foundation executive secretary Lin Wei-ting (林瑋婷) called on the Bureau of Investigation and the National Police Administration to draft standards stipulating the proper procedures to be used for all polygraph testing, including screening interviews to identify and exclude individuals who have physical conditions that could affect results.

She said that courts should weigh polygraph results carefully, because, even when properly administered, they only measure physiological reactions, which do not perfectly correlate with whether someone is lying.

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