Achieving Contextual Sentencing in the court room in Uganda through Community Impact Statements: whither kinship justice?
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The coming into force of Uganda’s Constitution (Sentencing Guidelines for Courts of Judicature) (Practice) Directions on 29th April 2013 constitutes a defining moment in sentencing reform in post-colonial Africa.
The Guidelines are part of an incomplete decolonising trend within the African criminal justice systems that represents a shift from the inherited retributive model of 18th century British justice, to a hybrid restorative model of justice driven by the resilience of post-modern customary justice. Specifically, the Community Impact Statement in Schedule 1 Form B of the 2013 Guidelines aims to open up the sentencing processes to contextual sentencing in which communities may be invited to state the impact of the offence, and to offer a limited indication of the sentence on invitation of the judge, but without the full decision making power.
Constructing a contextualised sentence in this setting necessitates a reconfiguration of the current adversarial model of justice to one that accommodates the relational quality of rights norms. This means that process rights ought to be recognised as being in relation to the pluralist contexts of customary notions of punishment and sentencing practice. The paper draws on the lived experiences of Ugandan judges and prosecutors in applying the Community Impact Statement, to demonstrate how the application of a flexible judicial approach -one that emphasises the autonomy of customary law and the application of cross-cultural juridical mechanisms, could engender a community based approach to sentencing.
Dr Maureen Mapp lectures at the Birmingham Law School. Her research interests lie in kinship justice among close-knit clans in Africa. She has given technical expertise and advice to a number of international bodies on the mechanisms of applying non-state norms and processes to policy and legal frameworks. She has just concluded a knowledge exchange workshop (August 2017) with Ugandan judges and prosecutors on contextual approaches to sentencing. Her other research interests are on the cultural transformation of cyberlaw laws through the lens of relational justice in Africa.
Speaker: Maureen Mapp (University of Birmingham)
Part of the Africa Talks Seminar Series Autumn 2017.