Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
19 July 2007

Xolela Mangcu on Vlok and prosecution

I find myself agreeing (again) with Xolela Mangcu’s column in today’s Business Day. Money quote:

I sometimes find the hypocrisy in the white community quite astounding on these matters. The very same people calling for Jacob Zuma to be prosecuted for the sake of the rule of law or for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to be taken to The Hague turn around, without batting an eyelid, and plead forgiveness for Adriaan Vlok and Johann van der Merwe.

But where is the sense of justice for the families of Siphiwo Mthimkhulu and his comrades? Does this not reveal a certain callousness about black life if consideration is given only to the perpetrators.

I am not big on punishment, but if we are to have it then we must be evenhanded in its application.

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