Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Magna Carta

This old, lovely document has had a lot of publicity around the idea of 42 days detention and how it should be respected. The news, though, of how law lords have ruled that anonymous witnesses can no longer be used within trials is a very linked problem.

And an interesting one, philosophically. On one hand, the idea the accused should be able to know who is accusing them of a crime is enshrined in English law. No matter how nasty they are. On the other hand, witness protection is important, too. Not just in gang warfare, as is something concentrated on in the current news stories, but in cases of rape, child abuse and other sexual assaults (remember, men can't be raped, legally).

The Magna Carta is important. The issue is: is it black and white? Some of these people, rapists and gang members and other such scumbags, are nasty people who deserve, at least, to be in prison. And surely we should try our best to get them there. But can we compromise morals to do this, or is that just as bad as 42 days?

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