London – In all cases of serious sexual assault it is fundamental that the rights of all parties are protected. All efforts must be made to safeguard the interests of victims particularly when the perpetrator is a well know personality. However, the requirement for due process also enshrines the right to a fair hearing. These are basic universal principles that underline the work of CAGE.
We are therefore concerned by the selective leaking of confidential evidence into the public domain which appears to be geared towards damaging the trial process. This is particularly dangerous when such leaks have coincided with prejudicial commentary by senior politicians and the media.
The hypocrisy of such a position has been demonstrated by former Prime Minister Manuel Valls who intervened pejoratively on the Tariq Ramadan case, yet extended the presumption of innocence in defence of the current Finance Minister, who is also accused of rape.
The law requires equal treatment of all suspects and the assumption of innocence before conviction. A trial of these serious allegations should be on the basis of concrete evidence procured in a fair manner, and not on the personality of the accused, or on the bias created by the media.
Furthermore, it is undermining to the interests of justice to use the case of Professor Ramadan as a tool to fan the flames of Islamophobia and play into the dog whistle politics of the far right.
In France, it is reported that the Muslim prison population stands at a shocking 70%. If Professor Ramadan’s trial by media continues on the current trajectory, it will only cement the already existing belief that Muslims are exempt from the French values of liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director for CAGE, said:
“CAGE is deeply concerned about the role of those engaged in instigating and perpetuating anti-Muslim sentiments based on the political and religious views of Professor Ramadan in France and beyond.”
“It is important for the legal process to arrive at a fair and just conclusion for all concerned. However, recent and past history shows us that governments are capable of hijacking the very serious issue of sexual offence in order to further smear campaigns against individuals who they perceive to have influence on the public discourse, especially on matters pertaining to civil rights, political dissent, community empowerment, whistleblowing and resisting government overreach.”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)