Justice delayed is justice denied

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Justice delayed is justice denied


The author is a reporter of the EYE Team at the JoongAng Ilbo.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a maxim often used to criticize a long and tiring legal process. William Gladstone, the 19th-century British prime minister, is often attributed with having first used the phrase. Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. also wrote “Justice too long delayed is justice denied” in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963.
Actually, it is not important who said it first. What’s more significant is that people who represented and advocated justice emphasize this in unison. We need to pay attention to the message that even if a right decision is made, it won’t help the victim if the decision is delivered too late.
School bullying cases are stirring Korean society again after professional volleyball players’ past bullying was disclosed. Their teams reprimanded them with indefinite suspensions and the Korea Volleyball Association stripped them of their national team qualification.
Recently, after contestants on a popular audition program were found to have been involved in school bullying allegations, they also dropped out or are being criticized heavily.
Their allegations are different, but the course of the development is quite similar. After the assailant becomes famous and gets attention, the victim is reminded of the sufferings of the past. After the victim exposes the incident on social media, the assailant apologizes when public criticism becomes harsh. Finally, a punishment or reprimand follows, almost always too late.
Now I wonder how the victims of the school bullying had to endure when we didn’t have social media or the internet. They must have spent endless hours suffering. One good function of social media is that it allow victims to speak up and help punish the assailants.
But ironically, social media is also used as a means of cyber bullying.
But belated exposure and punishment cannot be a solution to violence. As there are many kids who quietly send an SOS, we cannot just tell them to wait until the assailant maybe becomes famous someday.
It is important to punish the assailant for his or her past wrongdoings, but it is crucial to pre-emptively prevent bullying and create a system for early detection. If we don’t do it now, exposure will happen only after 10 or 20 years. Justice will be delayed again.
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