Labour wants to end the presumption of innocence in rape cases:
The Labour Party’s plan to reform the criminal justice system would mean that the accused in a rape case would have to prove consent to be found innocent — a change it acknowledges as a monumental shift.
But Labour’s justice spokesman Andrew Little said the current system is broken and in need of a major shake-up. The party favours an inquisitorial system, where a judge interviewed the alleged victim after conferring with prosecution and defence lawyers.
The policy would mean that in a rape case, if the Crown proved a sexual encounter and the identity of the defendant, it would be rape unless the defendant could prove it was consensual.
“The Crown has to prove more than just sex; the issue of consent has to be raised by the Crown, they have to prove the identity of the offender. They would have to bear that burden of proof before a switch to the defence to prove consent,” Mr Little said. . .
He said the issue of proof would only apply where allegations of rape had been raised.
“It is pretty radical thing to say that ‘all sex is rape’ unless you prove consent. The reality is that in 99.9 per cent of cases, no one is being asked to prove consent.” . .
An inquisitorial could be less traumatic for victims than the current adversarial system.
But requiring defendants to prove consent is a reversal of one of the tenets of our justice system – that people are innocent until proven guilty.
It would mean defendants would be regarded as guilty until they could prove their innocence.
Rape is abhorrent.
It is a crime which inflicts physical and mental damage and for which there is no excuse.
But that doesn’t justify reversing the burden of proof to require defendants to prove their innocence.