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Judges shouldn’t be lenient on criminals

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th January 2010 03:00 AM

JUDGES have called for a review of the law to ensure that criminals sentenced to life imprisonment stay in prison all their natural life. The judges, during their annual conference held at Imperial Royale Hotel, Entebbe, observed that the system where a convict sentenced to life imprisonment spends

JUDGES have called for a review of the law to ensure that criminals sentenced to life imprisonment stay in prison all their natural life. The judges, during their annual conference held at Imperial Royale Hotel, Entebbe, observed that the system where a convict sentenced to life imprisonment spends

JUDGES have called for a review of the law to ensure that criminals sentenced to life imprisonment stay in prison all their natural life. The judges, during their annual conference held at Imperial Royale Hotel, Entebbe, observed that the system where a convict sentenced to life imprisonment spends a maximum of only 20 years, defeats justice.

The point raised by the judges on life imprisonment is pertinent. Following the recent Supreme Court’s judgement, which scrapped mandatory death sentence for capital offences, it is logical that the law is reviewed in order to redefine “life sentence” to mean imprisonment for the entire offender’s natural right. It will defeat justice if criminals convicted on serious capital offences are merely locked up for only 20 years. They should be in jail for their entire life.

However, an equally important issue right now is the sentences that judges mete out to the criminals. Courts appear to be too lenient to the criminals and this is undermining public confidence in the judiciary.

Two years ago, a presidential aide was found guilty of obtaining money by false pretence. Although the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years, the chief magistrate who presided over the trial ordered the aide merely to either pay a sh1.4m fine or serve a one-year jail term. Of course, the aide, who had shamelessly defrauded desperate and jobless youth paid the fine with ease.

The granting of bail to convicts pending the hearing of their appeal is also an issue that needs to be reviewed. It is understandable to release suspects since they are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. But after the trial and conviction by a competent court, a person is no longer presumed ‘innocent’ and, therefore, should not be granted bail unless there are very compelling reasons like grave illness, requiring specialised treatment outside the prison. Criminals pose a danger to society. Fighting crime is costly and taxing. Therefore judges should be resolute and firm on criminals.

Judges shouldn’t be lenient on criminals

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