Hazem El Masri case shows Australia has a problem with innocent until proven guilty
The story entitled 'Australia's problem with innocent until proven guilty' by Prof George Williams, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 16 March 2016, clearly illustrates the erosion of presumption of innocence – one of the cornerstones of our legal system.
Prof Williams argues there's "... a growing community culture where it’s become more acceptable to judge a person based upon media coverage and political commentary, rather than on the basis of evidence assessed by a judge or jury."
According to Prof Williams, this problem is now so widespread that last month, it was the subject of a speech by the Chief Justice of NSW, Tom Bathurst. The Chief Justice's survey of the NSW statute book showed that “breaches of the presumption have become a routine part of the legislative process” as the presumption of innocence – the "golden thread" of criminal law - is being "whittled away, piece by piece.”
Prof Williams concludes there are enormous consequences to this erosion of our legal system because: "... we are losing something fundamental and important from our system of justice.”
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