Law Commissioner Gertrude Lynn Hiwa

Law Commissioner Gertrude Lynn Hiwa

LILONGWE ( Maston Kaiya, Mana) –  Law Commissioner Gertrude Hiwa has said the term sentence is not familiar to many individuals in the society.

She said for most individuals, ‘sentence’ is the term of imprisonment imposed on an offender and nothing else.

Hiwa made the remarks on Friday during a Press briefing by the Special Law Commission on the Development of Legislation on Sentencing Guidelines at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.

“Whatever perception is held or not held, sentence remains the pinnacle of the justice process which attracts public interest,” said Hiwa.

On that note, Hiwa appealed to all stakeholders and media practitioners in the country to report accurately and holistically on sentences.

“Although the sentencing process might be technical, there is nothing technical about the pain felt by a victim of an offence, the grief and sense of injustice felt by an offender who has been handed a harsh sentence, nor indeed the anger of the community which feels the criminal justice system is not protecting them from crime,” said Hiwa.

Law Commissioner Hiwa urged the media to refrain from picking only those parts which would make eye catching headlines or make juicy news.

Speaking when he presented the findings and recommendations of the Special Law Commission on the Development of Legislation on Sentencing Guidelines, the Chairperson of the Special Law Commission Honourable Justice of Appeal Edward Twea said sentencing is one area of the criminal justice system that is problematic.

He said the problem of sentencing arise mostly because of difficulties in accessing the law on sentencing.

“As a result, sentencing in Malawi has over the years been marred by issues of inconsistencies and disparities of sentence among others,” said Twea.

Twea said there was a need for a holistic approach to sentencing that would ensure that there is consistency of approach in sentencing in all courts and also that there is a framework within which matters of sentencing should be addressed in line with the changing dynamics.