DO NOT BLAME THE LAWYERS OVER THE REVELATIONS IN THE FIC TRENDS REPORT WITHOUT GETTING CORRECT FACTS:
“it’s totally unacceptable for some stakeholders to label lawyers as criminals without getting facts”
By Fidelis Solomon Ngoma
A Trends Report is just that; the job of the lawyers is to represent their clients legally. If the transactions highlighted in the FIC Report were conducted with the help of lawyers; it does not make lawyers criminals. They were just performing their jobs as lawyers. It must be appreciated that even if a a suspect (who is a client) admits “guilt” to his or her lawyer; it may not possible for a lawyer to be surely certain that the client is guilty. It may be that the client could be lying in order to mask up an issue on behalf of someone else, or other factors may be at play.
However, there are safeguards and standards in place to keep lawyers honest: they cannot lie if they do know information pertaining to their client’s legal guilt, and they also cannot offer evidence they know is false. On the other hand, lawyer-client privilege protects communication between the lawyer and his/her clients. Nonetheless, the most important thing to remember is that it’s not the lawyer’s job to discern true guilt. It is the court which decides and makes judgement as to whether a suspect is guilty or not.
The Law Enforcement Agencies have the mandate to fight and stop criminality in whatever form. They must investigate, arrest and prosecute offenders within the confines of the law. The LEAs must present their evidence to courts of law and allow the courts to determine the guilt of a suspect. Thus, the due process of the law must be followed; the constitutional presumption of innocence must be observed and the prosecution must prove their cases beyond any reasonable doubt since the the burden of proof is on them: Putting the burden of proof upon the prosecution means the point of trial is all about either proving or failing to prove that a suspect is guilty of the crime that he or she has been charged – it’s not knowing whether or not that a suspect is actually guilty.
Amazingly, the FIC Trends Reports and some sections of society want lawyers to be part of the prosecution. This is like indirectly promoting injustice: Lawyers have a legal responsibility to their clients that they must uphold. It must be also be understood that in court, “factual guilt” is distinguished from “legal guilt.” Hence, “factual guilt” is not what is discussed during trial (the question of whether or not a suspect is actually guilty); rather, the issue (which is discussed) at trial is legal guilt: Is the prosecution able to present enough evidence to prove the charges presented against the suspect “beyond a reasonable doubt”?
Ultimately, the reason most criminal defence lawyers wouldn’t ask a suspect if they’re actually “guilty” is that the question is not relevant to the case. Besides, it’s not the job of the lawyer to find out; their job is to defend defend their clients (suspects), and put up a solid and fair case – The lawyer’s job is to “keep the system honest.”
LET US NOT BLAME LAWYERS – WE ALL WILL NEED THEIR SERVICES AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER
Fidelis Solomon Ngoma
About the Author:A Political Analyst and Constitutional Law scholar. For comments contact him on this email address: [email protected]./+20979298204