Debate – Against: Should the accused remain anonymous?

By Jordan Hogan

When the French philosopher Michael Foucault famously conveyed that “where there is power there is resistance” he was focused on systems and the abuse of power within them. The legal system is no different, situations are manipulated, corruption occurs and bias plays a decisive role. Power, therefore, needs to be managed and a concept like anonymity shifts the balance far too much in the way of the system and to those who are in charge. People have a right, good or bad, to be able to know what is happening to their fellow man. In a country where we value our freedom of speech there must be no reason why information should be kept from us. Yes, sometimes there are situations when names are smeared, identities shattered and lives are ruined. The media sensationalises, everyone gets in a huff and it just doesn’t stop raining. These are just anomalies however – little inaccuracies which take away from all the good work which the system does. Our justice system should be an open door with a welcome mat on the floor, not a dungeon.

Rape is the common crime tossed out there when the anonymity question comes into the fray but it is hard to understand why. It hampers investigations and must have a major impact on people coming forward in serial rape cases. We would all still think of Jimmy Saville as that charming, if not slightly creepy, charity god if his name had remained anonymous, not as the foul monster that he actually was. The stigma which comes with being accused of rape must be awful and should not be taken lightly but the simple fact is that if someone is innocent, 9 times out of 10 they will be proven innocent by a jury of their peers and then all the stigma should vanish into the abyss. This is obviously not always the case and as with anything there is an element of subjectivity but most people would be willing to accept that the system has done its job to the best of its ability. Our society thrives on being able to know anything at any time and it would be standing in the way of progression to withhold information from the public. It is about having confidence in the system which is in place and revaluating that said system when certain challenges present themselves. Justice should be found in the end and we should all just let it, rather than worrying too much about situational abnormalities.

Illustration: Kenzo Ishida

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