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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Guilty Until Proven Innocent : A Dangerous Precedent

Normally, I use this space to talk about my writing, or writing-related subjects. I had hoped to have something more on-topic to discuss in this week's post, but unfortunately something has happened that is far more pressing than anything I normally concern myself with.

A crime bill was enacted into law by the Federal Conservative Party of Canada, back in May. Most of us didn't pay much notice to it. Most of us couldn't have cared less when it passed. And that is how democracy dies: not in fire or blood, not in revolution or war, but in ignorance and apathy.

The bill in question reverses the burden of proof in "certain" criminal cases. The burden of proof is of vital importance in law: it allows someone accused of a crime to be deemed innocent until proven guilty.

Under the "Tackling Violent Crime Act" of May 1st, suspects must prove they are innocent--it is no longer up to the Crown to prove guilt.

The implications of this measure are terrifying.

The Act was used this week, against accused members of the Crips crime gang, in Montreal. Under the clauses of the Act, they have been denied bail because they cannot prove their innocence. They have not been tried, they have not been found guilty, but they are being kept in custody until their innocence has been proven.

Now, I have no love of street gangs, I have no love of a thuggish, violent organization like the Crips, their chief rival the Bloods, or the vile criminal gangs that have flocked to Montreal in the past, from the Mafia, to the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine.

However, the fact of the matter is that the law and the justice system are note there merely to protect the law-abiding from the lawless; the law and the justice system are there to protect all citizens from injustice, no matter of their status or their worth as citizens. The law and the justice system are there to protect the citizens from their government. The law and the justice system are there to ensure that all citizens are treated fairly by all levels of society.

The law and the justice system, in this instance, have been perverted.

You may wonder why I am so upset at the notion that gang-bangers, drug dealers and violent criminals are being stripped of their rights.

Because the law that protects such as them from such perversions of civil liberty and justice, then it will protect the rest of us as well. Because the law that is used to strip them of their civil liberties and justice can and will eventually be used against the rest of us, as well.

Today it is a violent criminal that is seen as a threat to society.
Tomorrow it will be the political dissident whose ideas threaten the Government's status quo.
Today it is a violent criminal whose rights are stripped.
Tomorrow it will be an activist whose actions oppose the Government's political interests.
Today it is a violent criminal who sees themselves imprisoned without trial.
Tomorrow it will be someone fighting against government abuse.
Today it is a violent criminal.
Tomorrow it will be you.

People should not be afraid of their government.

Governments should be afraid of their people.


Eon said...

I was just gonna say... there is our "new" Canadian government at work

Eon said...

There's our "new" Canadian government at work.

you should here how they are "eliminating" child poverty in Canada for all those nice middle class voting folks..