Stakeholders Review Sentencing Guidelines on Rape, Sexual Offences against Children, Kidnapping, Abduction and Stealing

CALABAR, 30 NOVEMBER 2014. Stakeholders in the Nigerian justice sector gathered in a workshop in Calabar from 27 to 28 November 2014 to review a draft sentencing guideline on rape, sexual offences against children, kidnapping, abduction and stealing for the Nigerian judiciary. Present in the workshop were Hon. Justice I.N.B. Isua, Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State; Mr Attah Ochinke, Attorney General of Cross River State; Prof. Oserheimen A. Osunbor, Chairman Nigerian Law Reform Commission (NLRC); judges; lawyers; representatives of civil society organizations; and the media.

The workshop was organized jointly by UNODC and NLRC under the European Union funded project "Support to the Justice Sector in Nigeria" being implemented by UNODC and UNICEF. The draft sentencing guidelines were developed by NLRC with support from UNODC.

In his opening address to participants in the workshop, Prof. Osunbor said the development of sentencing guidelines for the Nigerian Judiciary was part of NLRC's contribution to ongoing reforms in the criminal justice sector and part of actions to achieve the transformation agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria. He said the guidelines would aid courts in exercising their discretionary powers in adjudicating cases.

Mr. Ade Omofade, Coordinator of the UNODC justice sector reform project said there were significant advantages in providing sentencing guidelines to judges. "The guidelines would ensure parity and equity in sentencing and provide opportunity to reflect on sentences that were meted out for certain heinous offences that have befouled the country in recent times," he said. This, in turn, would help people understand that such offences would not be tolerated by the society.

Participants in the workshop reviewed and recommended changes to the document. The revised sentencing guidelines, together with the adjudication guidelines for juvenile offenders developed together with UNICEF, will be further reviewed and finalized during a workshop for Chief Judges in 2015. 

This workshop was held at a time that Nigeria is observing 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, which began on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and will end on 10 December, the International Human Rights Day.

Rape, sexual offences against children, kidnapping and abduction are acts of violence against women and children and a violation of human rights. These offences have become "endemic in Nigeria" in recent years. Therefore, the development of sentencing guidelines for the Nigerian judiciary that specifically address these offences will help in redressing perceived inadequacies, while at the same time contributing to actions to eliminate violence against women and children.  

 

For more information, please contact:

James Ayodele

Tel: 234 701 683 9159, 234 802 976 8649, E-mail: james.ayodele@unodc.org