Parliament. Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has cautioned judges against dishing out lenient sentences to criminals at the expense of dispensing justice under the new programme of plea bargain.
A tough-talking Bamwine observed that just because the criminals have not wasted court’s time and pleaded guilty to their offences under the plea bargain programme, they should not be handled with kid gloves.
“Plea bargain sentences should not be dished out just to save court’s time and reduce case backlog at the expense of justice,” Justice Bamwine stated.
The administrative head of the high court and subordinate courts, was speaking to more than 20 judges at a consensus-building workshop on the draft plea bargain guidelines in Kampala on Friday.
Mr Bamwine’s caution to the judges came on the heels of a case of a judge in Nakawa Court, who sentenced a man to three years in jail for defiling a 12-year-old girl.
According to the Ugandan laws, aggravated defilement – which is having sex with a girl of under the age of 14 years – attracts a maximum punishment of death by hanging.
At the same consensus meeting, the chairperson of the plea bargain task force, Mr Andrew Khaukha, released a pilot report about the impact of plea bargain ever since it was launched 10 months ago.
Mr Khaukha’s report registered a clearance rate of 72 per cent of the registered cases that were enrolled for plea bargain in the last ten months.
About plea bargain
Plea bargain is an agreement between the accused person and the State whereby the accused voluntarily pleads guilty to the offence committed in exchange for favours like a lesser sentence or a lesser charge. For example, if a suspect was facing murder charges that attract a maximum sentence of death by hanging on conviction, heshe can walk away with a lesser sentence of life imprisonment.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor