chapter  11
Prosecuting crime
Pages 14

In 2000, when the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, was awarded the Medal of Honour of the International Association of Prosecutors, he described the duty of the prosecutor as being to ‘prosecute fairly and effectively, according to the rule of law, and to act in a principled way, without fear, favour or prejudice’. Much is expected of the modern prosecutor, and great care must be taken over prosecutorial decisions. Suspects must not be prosecuted unless this is fully justified, and the interests of victims and witnesses must be safeguarded. Wrong decisions can have serious consequences, and may even undermine public trust in the criminal justice system. If victims feel they have not received justice, they may be tempted to take matters into their own hands, and the prosecutor must try to ensure that confidence in the legal system is maintained. The prosecutor must act honestly and independently at all times, and within the parameters of prosecution policy guidelines.