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Justice is Blind. January 27, 2007

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.

Have you seen a statue of the Lady Justitia at any court building around the world?

You know, the blindfolded woman, with the scales in one hand and a sword in the other? She looks a bit like this…


So the Lady Justitia is blind. Her blindness is meant to symbolify the objective meting out of justice, with neither fear nor favour, regardless of the identity and status of the person brought to stand before her. In one hand, she carries a pair of perfectly balanced scales, which indicates that the pro and contra of the case has been evenly balanced. In the other, she bears a sword – not just a weapon, a sigil of power, but also to mean that the unjust will be punished.

A Nigerian youth was hung yesterday in Singapore on drug charges. The judge who condemned him to death submitted a report saying that there was reason to doubt that he didn’t know that he WAS carrying drugs. So, we have a reasonable doubt! But the Appeals Court threw out the appeal because he would be required to prove his doubt on a ‘balance of probabilities’ – tip the contra scales in his favour.

And once again, in spite of protests from Amnesty International (i bet the government and judiciary treats them as a joke) the UN and a personal appeal from Nigeria’s government, they still sent him to the gallows.

Actually, the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is, in my opinion, something used to allay the fears of criminals when they go into the dock. Basically, if you are hauled into court, you are already suspected of committing a crime – so is this ‘innocent until proven guilty?’ Nope. You are assumed to be guilty. Guilty until proven innocent. Your case file, if you ever have the misfortune of getting charged, has the details of your case transcribed from the everyday language to the juristical lingua. This text will probably not be understood correctly by you; it is, however, designed to highlight the details of what you did which could be criminal.

How does Law work? From what i have gleaned from what i’ve learned about juristische Sprache in Linguistik, there is a presumption of law. This presumption states that there are no ‘open questions’ when it comes to law. Law is a science, a positivist science, which relies on facts and evidence, and not doubt. Law talks about evidence. To be acquitted, one has to turn the balance of odds in his favour.

So, i would not say that the Law was wrong in executing Tochi. Because Law means, from the very word, something which has to be stringently adhered to. Yes, miscarraiges of justice occur, but that’s not a flaw in the law – it’s a flaw in the judge. What’s wrong lies always in the people.

Why didn’t anyone step in? The media have been keeping their collective mouths shut about the issue. Why haven’t they spoken up? Are they taking the stand of ‘Tochi’s execution will put Singapore in a bad light internationally so let’s not publish it in the States Times tomorrow’? There’s a reason why people are not reading the ST anymore. Why is it that only overseas publications have covered the execution which happened in Singapore, but NO ONE IN SINGAPORE IS COVERING IT EXCEPT THE ONLINE COMMUNITY?!

The judiciary. I don’t know if they allowed him a chance to defend himself, or if they just considered the ‘reasonable doubt’ and then threw it out because he was caught red-handed, and ignorance is not an excuse. If they denied it without hearing him, then i would say that this is a gross miscarraige of justice – where there is doubt, then i would say that forcing judgement without hearing the balance would not be justice at all – it would be cold-blooded murder just because the government is baying for his blood to stress their ‘strict anti-drug laws.’ This remains to be seen.

The Law Society. greg gan notes that lawyers were arrested under the ISA during the ‘Marxist scheme’ conspiracy. Is this why they are so cowed? But we have to face one reality – in Singapore, the fact is that Heroes Die First. Always is. No wonder they don’t show Rambo on TV anymore. Lawyers are supposed to be the conscience of society – i don’t see any conscience here. Why didn’t anyone stand up and say that the case was worth more delibration? And they are lawyers, people who have studied Law at an university and who are, perhaps, better-equipped to judge if the case was worth more debate or not. Maybe Tochi was a forgotten cause.

Law is a place without conscience. Lady Justitia is blinded because she does not want to see the reactions of people. Personally, i would prefer justice to look like this…

A Lady Justitia with eyes, and who can see. And, most importantly, she can SEE when a miscarraige of justice is being carried out, and has a soul, capable of thinking in adherance to and not blind obedience to what the law sets – for are not the eyes the window to the soul? Perhaps in thinking and reflecting about the framework of the law, Tochi might still be alive. Might be. I hope he is in a kinder world now.



1. Xiaole - January 28, 2007

maybe for this particular case, the lesser the readership, the better. and perhaps the fact that it is not published on paper, raises questions/doubts about the integrity of the ST as an objective newspaper. and this also begs the qn of how great an audience the article has captured to stress Singapore’s ‘strict anti-drug laws’.

ohwell. just a thought.

2. xizhen - January 28, 2007

hello! read your blog and learnt about this not for the first time. in fact the ST did report on this matter (have read 2 articles so far) and one of them was bought fr the news agency AFP and reflected the “international” view.. also mentioned the fact that a judge had cast doubt on his guilt..

wrt the case itself, it does seem a little dubious to me too.. but i’d need to read more before commenting.. 🙂

3. guojun - January 28, 2007

was it long long ago? I really have no idea…i think it was in 2005. But then, from the international press’ point of view, maybe a bit of blood mixed into the ink makes for better selling. 😛

4. nedstark - January 29, 2007

I read the Today which was distributed just before the execution took place. Naught was mentioned about Justice Kan’s doubts. Ah well…most of the time the reports in the news papers focus on the idea of Singapore’s soverignity….the right of Singapore as a nation to enforce its own laws on anyone caught within its jurisdiction. If u want to look for any debate on the death penalty, the net is the better place…

5. guojun - January 29, 2007

not just to say that. the net can be biased too, although the bias is somewhat balanced out by the mass of differing views.

why is the press keeping such a tight lid on things? That is what we should be asking. I mean, executing someone with clear links that he knew and brought drugs in with full knowledge? Well and good. But this? With doubt? When law becomes a tool of murder…

6. I am Singaporean XIX - Strongmen with Fragile Egos. « Die neue Welle - February 25, 2007

[…] is it even correct to base a defamatory lawsuit on guesswork and implied meanings? See the entry on Justice for a clarification of judicial language. If justice is a positivist science, why and how can it be […]

7. lawrence lloyd - February 13, 2008

am about writing my degree project on the topic, lady jutitia and the blindfold unveild in the Nigerian legal system. i would like to read your view(s) on the topic. thank you.

8. The Truth - February 24, 2008

you are? Tell me more and i’ll tell you more.

9. anne - May 11, 2011

hallå phone-booth

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