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The presumption of innocence

  • Published at 05:33 pm September 12th, 2018
Editorial
Photo: BIGSTOCK

As a general rule, we feel that denial of bail should be the exception and not the rule


We have long held that, in our opinion, where bail is available to defendants, then it is the best practice to be liberal with its application and its dispensation. 

After all, it is a bedrock principle of our jurisprudence that defendants be presumed innocent until the charges are proven against them in a court of law, and, as such, the presumption of innocence surely leads one to the logical conclusion that, absent extraordinary circumstances, the goal of the legal system should be to keep as few unconvicted people behind bars as possible.

To be sure, there are certain crimes, the gravity of which make them non-bailable, as a matter of law. And, to be sure, there are often good reasons why bail is withheld. There may be a concern that the defendant may abscond, or is likely to tamper with evidence, for instance.  

The discretion as to whether or not to dispense bail is entirely in the hands of the presiding judge, as it should be. But we suspect that few would argue with the notion that to withhold bail should be seen as a last resort, and reserved for truly extraordinary circumstances. 

As a general rule, we feel that denial of bail should be the exception and not the rule.

At the end of the day, dispensation or denial of bail is a matter for a judge to decide, and his or her decision must be respected. 

Our humble entreaty would be that where there are not clear and unambiguous reasons why giving bail would likely lead to a miscarriage of justice, that bail be dispensed with a liberal and merciful hand. 

Let the law take its course. But as it does so, let us reserve incarceration, so far as it is possible and practicable, to those found guilty in a court of law.

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