Guilty until proven innocent

Is it wrong to judge a man guilty?
Is it right to judge a man innocent?
The man accused should stand before his accusers.
The accuser should prove the accused guilty.

Guilty until proven Innocent
“Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” means “Proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies” by Alan Watson.

Proof is placed on the accuser not on the accused. This is a principle embedded into our legal system. This principle is known as ‘Innocent until Proven Guilty’ or ‘Presumption of Innocence’.

Is it wrong to judge a man guilty?
Is it right to judge a man innocent?
The man accused should stand before his accusers.
The accuser should prove the accused guilty.

In the news earlier last month the headlines read that the President of the Oxford Union Ben Sullivan was being investigated by police over rape allegations. Students were in outrage over his return and urged speakers that were due to speak to cancel their engagement. This generated a discussion on LBC Radio about the erosion in this day of ‘Presumption of Innocence’.

Nowadays, once an accusation is made and it reaches the news headlines; depending on the side the media takes can dramatically influence public opinion. At its worst a witch-hunt can ensure that targets not only the accused but close relatives of the accused.

In this nation, ‘presumption of innocence’ is meant to be a legal right for every citizen accused in a criminal trial. The burden of proof is placed on the prosecution to collate and present robust evidence that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. However, if reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted.

All one has to do is open a newspaper, turn on the radio or television and the media fuelled by public opinion can declare the defendant guilty before a jury has even made their verdict. Is this not contrary to the Human Right each citizen possesses; to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. 
Human Rights Act 1998 article 6.2

God expects that His Ecclesia will function as a witness on this earth and will judge matters according to His law. Paul was bereft about the lack of simple governance the Corinthians displayed. Their inability to deal with matters of sin but instead go to the courts of the world was a failure of the Corinthians operational governance.

An important element in the role of a witness is to verify an accusation or vindicate the accuser in court. A tangible function of the Ecclesia is to make judgement on matters and to dissolve disputes. Mature citizens will then become neutral arbiters to resolve matters. 
1 Corinthians 6:1-6, Deuteronomy 17:6, Deuteronomy 19:15, 2 Corinthians 13:1

Can I take it as far to say that we now see the accused as guilty until proven innocent? If this is true, is this backward concept now accepted as norm in this society?

If the Ecclesia began to really settle internal disputes without the involvement of external governing bodies, are we vulnerable to such a backward concept? The removal of this safeguard will mean that we may enact punishment on the innocent. Therefore to safeguard against punishing the innocent, the Bible instructs us that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. In order to prove that the accused is guilty, the Bible imposes a heavy burden upon prosecutors: the evidence against the accused must be confirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses. God’s laws are designed to treat defendants as innocent until proven guilty.



About the Author
Author: Esther
Business Entrepreneur and Civic Leader of the Civitas. Esther Sherato believes that understanding the Kingdom is essential for the maturity of all believers. She believes that the faith journey cannot be walked alone and fellowship together should not be neglected.
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