'Reacting to the arrest and detention in British custody of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that the arrest confirms “that no one is above the law.” This was a phrase repeated multiple times by members of her government.
It is, or ought to be, a fundamental principle of a society based upon the rule of law, that this is indeed the case. If an individual, or group of individuals, transgress upon the law then they ought to be held accountable. That ought to apply regardless of that person’s status. We know of course that this is an ideal not always applied. There is ample sociological evidence to that effect.
A related principle is that a person is presumed innocent until they either plead guilty or are found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction applying the law to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whether or not Mr Assange will ever receive a fair trial is a moot point. There has been a veritable torrent of prejudicial pre-trial publicity. Even the Judge who dealt with Mr Assange’s charge of breaching his bail conditions (in respect of non-existent Swedish charges of alleged sexual assault) felt the need to describe Mr Assange as a “narcissist,” the relevance of which to a charge of breaching bail escapes me.
The judge then declined sentencing jurisdiction and transferred Mr Assange to a higher court, which had the capacity to impose a 12-month sentence instead of the six months available to a lowly magistrate. Mr Assange had spent six and a half years holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, a detention that a United Nations panel found to be arbitrary and contrary to his human rights. Again, the legal justification for transferring Mr Assange to a higher court for admittedly breaching his bail on non-existent charges escapes me.
Returning to Mrs May’s triumphalist claim that no-one is above the law, her rhetoric immediately raises the question: if that is indeed true why is she and members of the government and those of governments before her not standing trial for the many and egregious breaches of international law perpetrated by successive British governments?
Let us look briefly that just four examples from recent history where, if indeed the standard of “no one is above the law” truly applied, it would rapidly deplete the ranks of United Kingdom politicians, past and present.'
Read more: “No One is Above the Law:” You Have to be Kidding
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