22 November 2018
“Innocent until proven guilty.”
In my earlier years as a military policeman, Public Prosecutor in Swaziland, Registrar of the Supreme Court in St Helena and in the subsequent years of my police career in several countries, including the Solomon Islands, I was always conscious of what I had been taught about the principle of “innocence until proven guilty.”
It is now over 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta, widely regarded as one of the most important legal safeguards.
Quoting Michael Caplin QC, an English law consultant, he said:
“Magna Carta, is still credited with making governments accountable and securing rights of freedom for individual citizens.”
I was reminded of the Magna Carta principle today, Thursday, when I read that a local Solomon Islands MP, arrested and charged last week on allegations of corruption, was allowed by a local Magistrate to travel overseas for medical treatment.
Whatever individuals might think of the decision to allow the MP to travel abroad it was a decision in line with the legal principle of “innocence until proven guilty.”
Many refer to the rights enshrined in the Magna Carta as relevant safeguards today and no doubt they are. but perhaps there might be those who now consider the famous golden thread has become a little strained by allowing the MP to go overseas for medical treatment.
Clearly though I see the Solomon Islands adhering still to the fundamental rights as laid down in the Magna Carta, unlike in some countries where there is much less individual freedom and accordance to rights in the law.
The same might be said, also, about the press in the Solomon Islands where free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution, save that such uttering’s as hate speech and incitement to violence could very well be in contravention of provisions of the Penal Code.