The Dreyfus Case a Century On — Ten Lessons for Australia
journal contributionposted on 2019-10-29, 08:30 authored by Michael Kirby
It is a century since Captain Alfred Dreyfus was exonerated of passing French military secrets to Germany. The story of his arrest, trials, humiliation and ultimate vindication are retold here. He was the victim of anti-Semitic prejudice and institutional failings. In this article the author reviews the lessons for contemporary Australia of the decade long ordeal. The lessons include many relevant to lawyers. We must be vigilant against miscarriages of justice; alert to stigma against minorities; cautious about closed trials; ready to protect those who question legal outcomes; careful to scrutinize authority; scrupulous in upholding the secular and impartial character of public institutions; attentive to media strengths and weaknesses; ready to consider change where institutions fail; and willing to offer apologies when injustice is proved.