Milly Dowler Case- ‘An Eye For an Eye, A Life for A Life’

By Hamid Chaudry- The heart wrenching case of Milly Dowler, the 13 year old girl abducted and murdered in 2002, drew to an emotional close last week, as, following the conviction of Levi Bellfield, her family members took turns to share with the nation how the case had affected their lives for the past nine years.

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In her statement to the press, Milly’s sister, Gemma, highlighted the failing of the so called ‘justice system’. A justice system which not only works to clear the name of the most blatant criminal, but does so by putting the victims of crime on trial themselves.  The stress and injustice is greater than any family should have to bear.

The purpose of a judicial system is to deliver justice in a fitting manner. The Dowler family, in the pursuit of justice, have instead faced the brunt of the legal system in the country. Their statements highlight how the legal system fails the victims of crime, making a mockery of empty statements made by the country’s elected representatives. Tony Blair claimed he would be ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.’

Family Statements

‘The length the system goes to protect his human rights seems so unfair compared to what we as a family have had to endure. …I hope whilst he is in prison he is treated with the same brutality he dealt out to his victims and that his life is a living hell’.  Sally Dowler, Milly’s Mother.

‘We do not see this as true justice for Milly… My family has had to pay too high a price for this conviction. During our questioning my wife and I both felt as if WE WERE ON TRIAL. We despair of a justice system that is so loaded in favour of the perpetrator of the crime!!  It has often appeared almost incidental that this is a trial concerning the murder of our daughter.’ Bob Dowler, Milly’s Father.

‘With regard to the question of justice, in my eyes justice is ‘an eye for an eye’. You brutally murder someone then you pay the ultimate price…. ‘a life for a life’. So in my eyes no real justice has been done…’ Gemma Dowler, Milly’s sister.

A System that Fails to Deliver

The statements demonstrate a loss of confidence in the judicial process. An adversarial process that  values strength of argument above a search for truth; the raising of suspicions rather than the deliverance of justice. An apology from Surrey Police simply deflects the fact that the criminal justice system is fundamentally flawed.

Ever since hanging was abolished in 1965, opinion polls (YouGov) show there is a majority in favour of capital punishment, though this does not translate to the elected parliament. This exposes the inherent weakness in the electoral process in implementing the wishes of the voters.

True Justice & Islam

The convection of Bellfield has not provided the Dowler family with any closure, or sense of justice having been served. A sense of justice having prevailed is innate to human nature – how is this achieved? Gemma Dowler echoed the sentiment of many victims of crime when she called for the right to real justice – for the criminal to suffer as they have made others suffer. It is well recognised that the Islamic hudood (punishments), enshrined in the Shariah (Islamic law), allows the opportunity for this justice. Allah (swt) speaks about this in the Qu’ran:

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‘And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it…but whoever pardons, and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. He does not like the wrongdoers’ Ash Shura, 42, 40

Allah (swt) dictates a law aligned to man’s nature, and determined that injustice often needs the same for justice to be served. However, the forgiving nature of man, and the higher status is encouraged as Allah (swt) mentions re-conciliation and pardon

The nature of the Islamic punishments is three-fold, each equally importance.

  • Firstly, to ensure that justice is served in this world, as this will give rise to order and a sense of fairness.
  • Secondly, as a strong deterrent to others, who may be considering a similar path. Too often, jail sentences and fines do little to deter criminals who are intent on continuing a life of crime. The sense of injustice festers, as the statements from Milly’s parents demonstrate.
  • Thirdly, recognising that this life is temporal, the hudood acts as a cleansing for the perpetrator, as he has violated the commands of His Creator; the punishment is befitting of the crime committed. The ultimate price in this life, being foregoing the right to life in this world, is due punishment and forgiven in the life to come.

Societal Order

Whether man recognises the existence of a Creator or not; whether he recognises the need for His laws to regulate society or not; one thing man cannot escape is his own nature. A nature which has been determined for him by His Creator. By virtue of this, man will gravitate towards a social order which aligns to his nature.

The need for this social order can be delivered through the implementation of a divine legislature. This is the need of man, irrespective of race, creed or colour. The need will emerge as the absence of justice becomes more stark. The greater the oppression, the greater the injustice; the greater the injustice, the greater the need for an order. The order, through the will of Allah (swt), will be restored, because this is the natural order of things.

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