Sunday, October 30, 2016

Presumption of Innocence

The “Presumption of Innocence” is a fundamental human right.  That fundamental right is the principal that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty.  The Constitution of the United States does not cite it explicitly, but the principle is embodied in the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments.  The US Supreme Court has subscribed to this principal since the early 1800’s.

The presumption of innocence has a long history.  It is considered an international human right under article 11 of The United Nation’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”  The same principle is recognized by Islamic law.  Basically, it means that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty.  Since early childhood I have been taught that one of the basic elements of presumption of innocence is that every person is presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty following a fair trial (not just an investigation).  Another element of the principal is that the burden of proof is on the “prosecution” which has to present enough compelling evidence (only actual evidence and testimony is allowed) to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused is guilty. 

If this principle is discarded or ignored, our democracy with its clear presumption that every person has dignity and worth will become another form of tyranny.  The oft-repeated refrain of late,  “Lock her up, Lock her up,” or “crooked” Hillary, is a violation of Ms. Clinton’s fundamental human rights.  It is a threat and a total disregard of a fundamental principal that protects us all. 

It is not clear precisely what prompted FBI Director Comey to send his recent letter to members of congressional committees and create havoc eleven days before a presidential election and in the midst of active voting in many states.  I presume he is innocent of any wrong doing at this point, for we have no evidence at the moment to the contrary.  I also presume Ms. Clinton innocent on the basis of the Director’s (unprecedented and unnecessary) public July announcement:  “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”  

When we presume guilt we do a great injustice to a person, but we are also participating in the demolition of a fundamental human right.  That a presidential nominee should presume Ms. Clinton guilty, continually proclaim her guilty, and threaten to put her in jail (without evidence and without due process) if he becomes president, makes him unfit to lead a country and a world that holds the principle of “Presumption of Innocence” as a basic human right!

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