Law Society wants consistency from courts

2012-10-09 21:36
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Johannesburg - More consistency is needed in sentencing by the courts, the Law Society of SA (LSSA) said on Tuesday.

"This is particularly important in cases dealing with sentences imposed on rapists and sexual abusers of children," co-chairs Krish Govender and Jan Stemmett said in a statement.

"There have been a number of judgments recently where the life sentences imposed on rapists for the rape of minors have been reduced by higher courts on appeal."

The LSSA said it respected the principle of judicial discretion, however it did not address the perceived unjustified and unacceptable disparity in sentences.

"This must be addressed in order for the judiciary to maintain the respect that it demands from the public at large," Govender and Stemmett said.

"The time has come to reconsider the proposals for a sentencing council to be established to review legislation and sentencing guidelines."

These proposals were made by the SA Law Reform Commission in 2000.

The proposals were meant to address concerns that particular offences were not being treated with the appropriate degree of seriousness by the courts.

Govender and Stemmett said that when judgments attracted the media and public interest the courts should explain their reasoning in layman's terms, especially when sentences were decreased.

"The constant criticism of sentences which have been reduced on appeal involving rapists and abusers of women and children must be better anticipated by members of the judiciary."

Read more on:    lssa  |  child abuse  |  judiciary

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