It’s feeding time today (Tues 1st July) and whatever remains of the young man when this frenzy is over, I do hope that we will get to know what really is the truth to all this. In the flurry of counter-attacks and justifying some very odd reactions to this current fiasco, I pray that rational heads will prevail for ultimately, it is only Allah’s judgement that matters.
Okay TV3 just splashed the accusers’ photo on Bulletin Utama tonight that just about declared open season folks, so take your potshots at the guy. How come I am getting visions of a feeding frenzy???
While a “trial by new media” is ongoing in blogosphere against the young man who lodged the “suicidal” police report alleging sodomy by his employer, there is an Associated Press report on a civil suit filed by the accused against his accuser. Please note that the AP report never mentions the name of the accuser (who afterall is a possible victim) but refers to him only as a “male aide”. A more recent report by the IHT, BBC and AFP also leaves the accuser unnamed. It makes me wonder what journalistic ethics does the local media practice? What ethics do bloggers practice? As Muslims where is our humanity? Must we justify blatant violations of a person’s right to be presumed innocent in the name of political conspiracy? What lessons are we teaching the public now – that if you are a nobody you do not have the right to report any crime committed against you by your superior? If this young man made a false report, he stands to lose his anonymity and be vilified by the whole world. What I would like to know is the truth of his allegations. With innocence comes courage and faith in Allah dispels all fear. Allah knows best!
I heard the news last night about a police report lodged against a senior opposition politician on an alleged sodomy of a male aide. Like many people, I was curious as to who the accuser and the accused were but thought that possibly the media was being cautious in not revealing their identities. But from the seriousness of the report on TV3, I could guess this was no small fry and that whoever it was must be a very prominent person. By morning the identity of the accused was all over the newspapers and splashed across the internet and, fortunately, the news media had the sense not to reveal the identity of the accuser.
But, much to my horror and disappointment, bloggers were at it in full force posting the name and photos of the young man in some prominent and famous blogsites. Worse still, the photos and name of the young man’s fiancee was also put up all over the internet. The young man and his fiancee are now objects of ridicule with venomous comments posted in blogsphere, to jackup the hit meter no doubt! For the so called champions of justice, bloggers did not hesitate to take the law into their own hands to be the judge, jury and executioner for this yet unproven case. Now I just saw Datin Seri Wan Azizah on RTM2 Dateline holding up a handphone showing a photo of the young man posing with some official connected to the DPM to prove political complicity. With all due respects to the good doctor, was it right to do that?
Much as this is going to affect DSAI’s political career, as far as I am concerned there is always a presumption of innocence. To me it does not matter about the courts and the judiciary, what matters is before Allah. If he is innocent, Allah will protect him. But what of the crime being perpetrated against the accuser and the violation of his fiancee’s right to privacy? Does the accuser not have the right to presumption of innocence? What crime did the fiancee commit that she be found guilty by association? My doa went out to DSAI’s family the first time he was accused. This time my doa is for this young man’s fiancee. May Allah give her strength in the days ahead.
For those unfamiliar with Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a person has the right to be presumed innocent until his or her guilt is proven:
(1) 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.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
For the moment, nothing has been proven as the matter is still under police investigation. Therefore, all the more reason to exercise caution. In the cause of justice, let’s not perpetrate a further injustice. Wiki says it nicely here:
The phrase that a person is innocent until proven guilty refers to legal as opposed to factual guilt. In every case, the defendant either committed the offense or he did not. The phrase means simply that a person is not legally guilty until a jury returns a verdict of guilty – which is little more than a tautology.
Strictly speaking the presumption of innocence applies only to the trier of fact – normally the jury. For example, members of the public are not required to presume a defendant to be innocent. They may express any opinion on a defendant’s guilt they wish subject to being sued for defamation if their expressed opinion is wrong. The presumption attaches upon the inception of the trial. Thus, a person may be stopped by the police upon reasonable suspicion and a person may be arrested upon probable cause. The presumption ends when the trial is over. For example, a person who has been convicted and placed on probation can have his probation revoked and be sent to prison if the judge is satisfied by the preponderance of the evidence that the person had willfully and without lawful excuse violated a condition of his probation.
In most cases, the media does not reveal the identity of the accuser who, to all intents and purposes, is potentially a victim of rape. I don’t intend to launch into a defence of either accuser or accused but to draw attention to the fact that the “victim” has the right to have his or her identity protected from public knowledge for the simple reason that no person in their right mind would ever come forward to report such crimes. This issue was discussed In the case of rape accused Kobe Bryant in this CNN report:
Many states, as a measure to encourage victims to come forward, have rape confidentiality statutes that prevent law enforcement and court personnel from revealing the identity of sex assault victims. In Colorado, where Bryant is on trial, it’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $100 fine and 90 days in jail. Those confidentiality laws are often confused with rape shield laws.
Rape shield laws generally govern the admissibility of evidence and testimony of an alleged victim’s sexual history during trial, based on the theory that evidence of past behavior is irrelevant to the current case. They do not address revealing the identity of victims.
The media, legal experts say, are free to print those names. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the press that right. Media outlets choose not to exercise it. And legal, psychological and journalism experts say the media have made the right choice.
“The big question is …’Do you want to see your daughter’s name in 28-point type on the front of The New York Times as a rape victim?’ … It isn’t a feminist issue when a lot of sexual assault victims are men,” says Victoria L. Lutz, of the Pace Women’s Justice Center, an organization that works to eradicate violence toward women.
“A better question,” Lutz continued, ” is ‘Do you want to see your brother’s or your son’s name as a victim of sodomy on the front page of The New York Times?'”