Tue, 21 May 2013
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Please can we stop religious oaths in the legal process?
The debate assumes that anyone who is reminded about the potential consequences of perjury will only be worried about the consequences in the here-and-now.
Having been involved in a trial in which it was critical to my client that his opponent's witnesses be compelled to take the oath on the Koran (because he was sure that otherwise they would have no compunction about lying in their evidence), and then seeing for myself the kerfuffle and agonies that ensued when the senior member of the family for the other party (who initially assumed that he could merely Affirm) was told by the Judge that he must take the oath on the Koran, I am convinced that evidence on religious oath can be very important in the adminstration of justice.
If a person has no religious faith, affirmation is entirely appropriate. When a person of deep religious faith (especially where that is part of their public "face") refuses to give an oath relevant to that faith, the religious oath still clearly serves its purpose.
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