Saturday, January 28, 2023

What Is the Meaning of Presumption of Innocence?


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The answer is simple. There would be no courts if presumption of innocence were not a principle of justice. What is the use of a trial if a person is already presumed to be guilty. Society has evidence that accusation could be malicious and false. Hence the criminal justice system has its own jurisprudence, the most important of this principle of jurisprudence is to have an impartial and independent tribunal presided over by an independent adjudicator.

Secondly, it is to give fair hearing to an accused person by presuming that he or she is innocent until he or she by his or her own volition pleads guilty or is found guilty after a fair hearing. Since punishment is deprivation of liberty or a fine, bail conditions are provided to prevent deprivation of liberty until a person is found guilty. This is why bail conditions are undertakings rather than payments. Those who preside over cases should neither aim to subject those presumed to be innocent for deprivation of liberty or impose excessive bail conditions which make the accused person languish in prison before being tried and convicted of the offence.

Those who exercise discretionary powers in court proceedings should take note of the fact that they are agents of justice and should ensure that justice is done and is seen to be done.

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