Malawi reviewing unduly lenient sentences by courts -Law Commission

The Malawi Law Commission is reviewing the sentencing guidelines with a special law commission that was instituted.

Chairperson of Special law Commission,  Justice Twea SC, Justice Dr Jane Ansah SC and Programme Officer William Yakuwawa Msiska at the opening of Development of Legislation on Sentencing Guidelines in LL

Chairperson of Special law Commission, Justice Twea SC, Justice Dr Jane Ansah SC and Programme Officer William Yakuwawa Msiska at the opening of Development of Legislation on Sentencing Guidelines in LL

Cross section of the participants at the National Consultative workshop on the development of Legislation on sentencing guidelines in LL

Cross section of the participants at the National Consultative workshop on the development of Legislation on sentencing guidelines in LL

Speaking in Lilongwe during a two day national consultative workshop on the development of legislation on sentencing guidelines, Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Dr. Jane Ansah said there have been a lot of outcries on how the sentencing is done by the Malawian courts.

Said Ansah; “Sentences vary from one Judge to the other, at times the same judicial officer can give two different sentences to two different convicted people who have committed a similar offence.

“Now this workshop aims at making sure that there is uniformity even though it might not be that exact. The guidelines for sentencing will depend on some issues such as if the person has pleaded guilty in the very early stages or not.”

According to Ansah from the previous consultative workshops, tentative recommendations indicate principles of law that should guide courts in the exercise of their sentencing discretion, so that sentencing for analogous circumstances are delivered as transparent and consistently as practically possible.

“There is need for victim and community participation to infuse restorative justice values in the sentencing process,” she said.

On his part, Chairperson of the Special Law Commission on the development of the legislation on sentencing guidelines Justice Edward Twea said, the technical side of sentencing requires that the court should impose on an offender a sentence that is lawful and just.

“There is need to satisfy the victim of an offence and the public that justice has indeed been done, so that we achieve respect for the law and a just and peaceful society,” he said.

According to the Chairperson, one of the reasons for the problems in inconsistencies and disparities of sentence is the difficulty in accessing the law on sentencing, in that most of the details on the law of sentencing are sourced from the common law.

The special law commission consists of nine commissioners and was institute in 2013.

She added that  the age of the accused person, the amount of the damage done, if the person has benefitted from the crime, or if the crime has been committed by a single person or more will also be looked into.

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10 thoughts on “Malawi reviewing unduly lenient sentences by courts -Law Commission”

  1. Mwana wotopa ndikulira says:

    First and far most, Corruption has taken control of all the judges especially the High Courts. The poor, are the ones given stiff and longer sentences because they have nothing to offer to the judges. So with the influx of the CHANCO lawyers, are all also thieves, drunkards, sexualists, killers and corrupt, every lawyer has his own judge. Even if you review, but without doing away with corruption, its just time and allowance waisting. The other problem is with the MLS, and the High Court.1 MLS does not knw what to do with the lawyer who doesnt want to be their member. 2 MLS doesnt know how to handle complaints of lawyers swindling ordinary people. When a lawyer steals its not a crime at MLS. THE HIGH COURTS: I understand the High Courts reviews/ have time to look into the judgements made in the lower courts, but when they see anythng wrong they wait for a complainant to come, my question is, Is there no one who would re-look into the judgements made in the High Courts? This upper courts in Malawi are disgracing the whole High Courts: corruption, time wasting/ too much adjurnments etc i have come to conclude that every one at High Court is involved, thats why they shield each other

  2. ken says:

    Malawi wanga!

  3. Tikondane says:

    Point of correction: If we have high levels of mob justice in this country it’s because the High Court quashes good sentences (deterrent punishments) imposed by the subordinate court and also issue release orders against those inmates duly imprisoned by the hard-working subordinate court on pretext that there’s no much space in prison. It is not the business of the court to be addressing matters of prison space but for the executive. Courts of law must not interfere with the duties and responsibilities of the Executive Arm of Government. Mukamatulutsa zigawenga mu ndende inu a High Court chifukwa choti malo mulibe, zidzakuphani zigawenga zimenezitu. Olo ngati sidzngaphe inu, zikhoza kupha abale anu olo azinzanu amene. Inu zingomangani, asiyeni a Executive agwire ntchito yawo. Asamangodalira ndende za Kamuzu, amange zawo zamakono. Anthu akuphana kunjaku chifukwa chomalekelera zimbalangondo zidzikhala kunja.

  4. Nkasai says:

    Yes it is questionable how Teresa Senzani was sentenced 3 years considering the amount and the suffering her theft caused poor Malawians .This was fishy!

  5. Dr Chaponda says:

    Lutepo, a politician, kuba ma billion mukumunjata 12 yrs only, Henry Banda kuba mwanapiye mukumumanga 18 yrs. Nzeru zili pati? Where is fairness and equity in our justice system? Mapwala anu

  6. Wangonde says:

    Its quite funny sometimes!!!!! Anyway, since the men and women of their calibre are to review the sentences lets wait and see. We need stiff punishment to stop the next person from committing a similar offence or never to do it. We are too soft with our laws Madam Ansah, please. DON’T SLAP BUT PUNCH!!!

  7. Ndanena says:

    In fact many Malawians do not understand how these Judges pass their sentences. It has come to common notice that one Judge might pass a convincing sentence to the victim but after an appeal one wonders that sentence from 14 years imprisonment with hard labour turns into almost 1 year that includes some days of deductions and ended up serving sentence of 6 months. My question is that do these Judges really consult Law books or Judgements are basing on guess work or because the accused is their friend from a drinking spring. Our Judiciary system is so boring in this country. YES, corruption is world wide BUT Malawi Courts is worse.

  8. Penalties indeed outdated says:

    Good initiative because honestly the courts have been too slow to cope with society’s expectations. Perhaps we can say courts must see to it that the laws (made by parliament) are serving to deliver justice because the courts use Laws daily.

    In particular courts must continuously update themselves on what is current for example if inflation is at 25% like now the value of fine penalty is next to nothing after every four years therefore there must be mechanism to assess if these fine penalty as defined in the laws 4 years ago are still punitive enough today.

    I may not know who should do this review between Parliament or Judiciary but between you two guys you must be in constant touch. This is where I think we suspect judiciary has let the society down leaving these updates to Parliament whom we all know are not as literate as the Judiciary to be left with this responsibility for reviews.

  9. hekaya hekaye! says:

    ingovomelani kuti the length of the sentence is according to the size of the scone given. okuba ma soya pieces munamupatsa 15 years. okuba cashgate amene anapangitsa kuti anthu ambili-mbili afe mzipatala (murder) munamupatsa 5 years.

    if anyone tries to fuck around with my life or my property, me and my neighbours will kill them pompo-pompo. a police ndiye aja ajambulidwa pa website ya malawi 24 ali ku chibuku ataveka hule chipewa chogulidwa ndi msonko wanga. nyo!

  10. Ze Roberto says:

    If we have high levels of mob justice in this country now, it’s because of the inconsistencies by the courts when passing judgement. This review is therefore, long overdue.

Comments are closed.