First let me state that this post in no way supports the alleged actions of the group that has labelled themselves the Roastbusters, what this posts objective is to demonstrate to all New Zealanders the folly of convicting these guys before due process has occurred, and in fact the danger of not getting a conviction if these allegations are true and it goes to trial.
In New Zealand we have a Bill of Rights that entitles every person, no matter how low on the totem pole, the right to a fair trial.
Amongst other specifics, section 25 lists these things as a ‘minimum right’
- the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial court
- the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law
So far over the past few days we haven’t just heard ‘Owen from Nelson‘ condemn these young men as ‘criminals and rapists’ on late night talkback, but the Police, MPs, Rape Prevention organisations, Bloggers, Commentators, Educators and more.
Here are some examples from just the past 24 hours
- The Police on Duncan Garner, question, “Do you think this could be rape?“, answer, “Yes!“
- MP Carol Beaumont “This fact that they think it is okay to stupefy young women by using alcohol, and then rape them, is completely wrong.“
- National Rape Collective said on OneNews they were committed ‘criminal behaviour‘
- The police said on TVNZ news last night that they believed their ‘behaviour was criminal‘.
- A Principal of one of the Roastbusters old schools said that it’s wrong that “the legal system does not offer protection” to the girls.
The danger with these kinds of statements, the statements that convict these young men before due process, is that we could be setting up a scenario where they do not, and can not get a fair trial.
As a broadcaster you are always warned about making statements prior to a trial that could be used by a defence team to say that their client cannot get a fair trial. When someone is charged with a most horrendous murder of a child, and the talkback board lights up with people wanting to ‘string them up‘ or using terms against that person like ‘murderer‘ the correct process is to not allow those comments to go to air. Now in this case there are no charges so it’s not quite as black and white as that, but my concern is that if these alleged crimes have been committed, then our society has been allowed to be whipped into such a frenzy against these young men, that there is no way they could get a fair trial and it would get thrown out of court.
I believe these young men will end up facing charges as all it takes is one girl to come forward and make a complaint and I think one will, which makes the idea of allowing due process to take place all the more important.
The danger of vilifying these young men, convicting them in the court of public opinion, and those with authority such as police, politicians and people of varying influence using terms such as ‘rapist’ before a trial happens, is that if they have indeed committed those crimes all our accusations now may lead to their case being dismissed.