[IRPCoalition] Rights?

Jean F. Quéralt jfqueralt at theiofoundation.org
Wed Mar 6 18:56:23 EET 2019

Dear Deirdre, dear all.

I may not feel like i have much to contribute to the conversation yet I do 
feel you have expressed very aptly a growing concern I've been feeling for 
the past years.

I find fundamental to not forget why we decided that presumption of 
innocence was instrumental to create safer societies. It personally creeps 
me down to the bone to observe how judgment is passed without due diligence 
nor due process.

In thr digital context, these situations have been normalized by social 
media, for instance, when taking down content with automated filters (and 
providing very little remedy methods). The situation can only get worse by 
laws forcing platforms to actively regulate their content. The natural 
reaction can only be favoring false positives in order to avoid financial 
losses (whether by fines or by business decrease).
This friction leads to both discouraging users to express themselves as 
well as creating the sense that the burden of proof is in them.

And of course, I'm only covering a tiny aspect of a broader discussion 
about "what can you be accused of".


On March 6, 2019 10:49:50 AM Deirdre Williams <williams.deirdre at gmail.com> 
> Have you ever tried to prove that you did not do something you were accused 
> of? This has to be one of the most difficult things in the world to do, and 
> especially in the case where it is a matter of the accuser’s word against 
> your word. This is a situation to which all of us are vulnerable. 
> Shakespeare makes Hamlet advise Ophelia, “Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure 
> as snow, thou canst not escape calumny”. Most of us, hopefully, will never 
> have to face this situation in its most serious context as a criminal 
> matter. However the risk of false accusation is continually present.
> The persons who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were 
> aware of this danger, and made provision for it, specifically in Article 11 
> (I) which describes the right to the presumption of innocence for the 
> accused in a court of law. It seems to me that this provision has generated 
> a whole pattern of thinking, which has percolated down into everyday 
> situations as well, a perception that the accused is innocent until proven 
> guilty, and that the burden of proof lies with the accuser.
> Until recently that is.
> Recently, social media, and specifically in the case that drew this to my 
> attention Facebook, has reversed that right. The burden of proof now lies 
> on the accused, who is considered guilty until the proof of innocence is 
> provided.
> About 100 years ago, shortly after the end of the Second World War, WB 
> Yeats wrote a prophetic poem called “The Second Coming”. The phrase about 
> the “ceremony of innocence” was formerly rather enigmatic for me “The 
> blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is 
> drowned,”; now it stand revealed. There is no innocence any longer. Instead 
> of each of us being hypothetically innocent, each one of us is guilty, at 
> the whim of anyone who chooses to accuse us.
> This matter of presumption, of innocence or guilt, very deeply affects the 
> whole relationship between the individual and the law. If you consider 
> articles 7 to 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each of 
> these rights is compromised if the “presumption of innocence” becomes a 
> “presumption of guilt”.
> So far the discourse on human rights and the internet/social media has 
> focussed on the right to freedom of expression with a consideration added 
> later of the right to privacy. Can the right to presumption of innocence 
> for the accused, with the burden of proof being placed on the accuser, be 
> added to that discussion?
> Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
> Article 7.
> All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to 
> equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against 
> any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any 
> incitement to such discrimination.
> Article 8.
> Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national 
> tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the 
> constitution or by law.
> Article 9.
> No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
> Article 10.
> Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an 
> independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and 
> obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
> Article 11.
> Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent 
> until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had 
> all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
> ...
> http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
> Looking forward to hearing what you think
> Deirdre
> --
> “The fundamental cure for poverty is not money but knowledge" Sir William 
> Arthur Lewis, Nobel Prize Economics, 1979
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