Oath or Affirmation (Law)

Oath and Affirmation:


In all court trials, it’s part of the proceeding that before you will be permitted to testify in court, you will be required to agree that you are going to say the truth, which should be the whole. This entails that he must understand the purpose of saying the truth and he must agree that he is going to say the truth. This can be culminated in what we called: oath Taking. 

An oath is a solemn promise or pledge made by a witness in the court before the judge that he is going to say the whole truth about the transaction that he was invited to testify. The witness is expected to know what is expected of him in the court and he is meant to assist the court and not mislead the court, so he is expected to say all that he knows about a case without adding lies to it.

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It can also be defined that an oath is a voluntarily vow or promise made by the witness in the court agreeing that he is going to say the truth about the transaction that he was invited to testify in. The witness before taking an oath will be reminded that he is expected to say the whole truth concerning a matter. 

The court in order to ensure that the witness does not testify in lies shall also remind the witness of the criminal offence of perjury. Perjury is a criminal offence of telling lies on oath. It is charged against a witness that lies on oath. The court official leading the witness on oath shall always remind the witness, of the reason why he should testify in truth and the implication of telling lies on Oath.

Oath-taking is indeed part of every jurisdiction and the witness is always at peace to choose the item that matches his worship with which he can take his oath.

Oath-taking is usually conducted with the symbol of the religious belief of the witness. While the witness shall be expected to lift it with his left hand, the right is usually ordered to be placed on his chest. This signifies the pledge by the witness to his God that he shall say the whole truth in a matter. Oath-taking is usually done towards a God, pledging to him that you shall say the whole truth in a matter.

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Oath-taking has a spiritual implication that if the testifier lies, the God or gods that he believes shall be expected to harm him. So he is always at liberty to choose the instrument that signifies his religious belief with which he shall take the oath. These may include Bible for Christians, Quran – for Muslims and Machete for the Traditionalists.


This is usually an alternative to oath-taking. In a trial, a witness will always have the choice to take an oath or affirm. This both serves to see that the witness says the whole truth concerning the transaction. The only thing is that both have various implications. In oath taking the witness, is usually allowed to hold to the symbol of his religious belief and he is meant to swear an oath believing that he is being witnessed by the court and the deity that he worships. This solidifies the argument that an oath has religious implications.

However, in affirmation, the witness will only be expected to affirm to the court that he is going to say the whole truth in a matter but he will not be compelled to invite the presence of the God that he worships. Affirmation does not involve the gods. It does not have religious implications. However, the witness shall be expected to say the whole truth in his testimony as telling lies in his testimony under affirmation may also lead him to be convicted for the offence of perjury. Perjury helps to see that the court is not being misled by the witness in a particular matter. 

It can logically be argued that the court may more easily agree with a witness that testifies on oath than a witness that affirms. However, that should not have been the case as individuals have the right to hold to their various beliefs. Affirmation is usually imbibed by those who have beliefs against taking an oath, either due to their religious belief or personal inclination. 

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