These days the statement should be expanded to: proven in a court of law and not in mainline or social media, or screaming mobs in the streets, as we all witness the tsunami of accusations against public persons in media, business, religion, education, policing, the entertainment industry.
Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law is rooted in the Roman maxim: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (“the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies”).
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
Canadian Charter of Rights, 11[d]: (d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. [In Canada this means the onus is on the Crown [prosecution in the US] to prove the case.]
What we are witnessing increasingly over the past several years, mostly when it comes to accusations of crimes of sexual or physical abuse of women and children, is conviction in the various forms of media, accusers NOT going first to the police for an investigation and laying of charges, but to the media of one sort or another, and triggering a mob-like reaction among the public, who assert absolute belief in the accuser’s version and proceed to destroy the reputation of the accused, without a shred or irrefutable proof that would stand scrutiny in a court of law being offered.
It seems to be becoming de rigour to convict and destroy by media.
This is not justice. This is unadulterated vengeance. Lives are destroyed.
Yes, some of the accused may be guilty.
Not all are.
In the use of traditional and social media by accusers, rather than going through the judicial process first, this enables other people with their own agendas to flip things and become a mob, using in their turn the same medias, going after the accuser.
In the end, because due process was not followed, the lives of both accused and accuser are left in shambles, no matter the eventual judicial outcome.
The justice system is thus seriously weakened, and the day will come when the tide will turn, and the ugliness of real victims not being believed will happen again because the ever fickle media, and the fickleness of people in general, will move onto some other cause.
This current climate of accusation and conviction by media is evil.
No Christian, unless abandoning the Gospel of Mercy and Truth, can be a participant in such egregious breech of the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence unless guilt is proven in a court of law.
© 2018 Fr. Arthur Joseph
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