Monday, June 23, 2008

Rugby and the right to silence

I haven't commented on the English rugby team rape allegations because there doesn't seem to be much to say. A group of touring rugby players allegedly raped a woman and put her in hospital. They should be investigated, and, if the evidence supports it, prosecuted. While they've now left the country, in the absence of formal charges (or indeed a formal complaint from the victim - which is a big problem in many rape cases), there was no justification to detain them, and they can always be extradited if charges are subsequently laid. And while they remained silent, that is their right: in this country, no-one has to talk to the police.

However, I have noticed a curious double standard in regard to the latter. A couple of years ago, there were screams of outrage and calls for obstruction of justice charges to be laid when the parents of the Kahui twins refused to talk to the police about their children’s' deaths. There have been no similar screams in this case. Has the New Zealand public finally recognised the value of the right to silence? Or is it simply because the alleged offenders in this case are rugby players?