Judges to get guidelines on sentencing

By Chandani Kirinde

The Sentencing Policy Bill which will give the judiciary guidelines on penalties is one of a string of new laws the government will introduce next year. According to Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem, the new law will ensure uniformity in the sentences passed on those found guilty.

The new law has been formulated with the assistance of the Department of the Attorney General of Australia. At present there is no consistent policy on sentencing. The Sentencing Policy Bill is among several other bills that are likely to be drawn up by the Ministry of Justice in the coming year.

These include a bill to provide assistance or protection to child victims and witnesses in cases. It provides for special measures such as child witnesses giving evidence through video recording or live links, according to a report submitted by the Ministry to Parliament on Friday.

Along with this a Child Protection Bill too is in the making. This bill will incorporate the contemporary realities relating to child protection and replace the antiquated Children and Young Persons Ordinance.
The new bill seeks to increase the collaboration between the court, the police and probation officials and gives top priority to the welfare of the child.

A new Prisons Administration Bill, too, has been drafted. This provides for a new regime for the administration of prisons. The system is being revised by a committee of experts appointed by the Ministry.

The Government is also drafting new amendments to the Assistance and Protection to Victims and Witnesses Act. Such a bill was taken up for debate in Parliament in 2008 but was delayed due to the need for certain changes in the draft.

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