By Aisha Tamba
Lamin Fatty, the national coordinator, Child Protection Alliance, has warned judges against using their own discretion when sentencing rape convicts.
On Friday, The Standard carried a story in which a 52-year-old man was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for raping a 10-year-old girl.
However, Mr Fatty said the sentencing does not fall within the stipulated provisions of the Sexual Offenses Act 2013. “I, therefore, see an error in the side of the judge who gave 15 years imprisonment to the man who raped a 10-year-old. This is actually contradictory to what is stipulated in the Act which gives mandatory jail term of life imprisonment. There is no ambiguity in the provisions. You go to section 4 of the Sexual Offenses Act, it’s very clear on this. There is nothing like judges using their discretion to give sentencing in this particular category,” the child rights activist noted.
He said if a child is under 13 years or under the custody or guardianship of the person who raped them, then there is nothing like discretion for the judge since the person should get maximum imprisonment.
“We all know, sometimes there have been a lot of inconsistencies with the application of laws in this country. Of recent, I think from the Standard Newspaper, a publication of a 51 or 54-year-old man who was sentenced to life imprisonment for rape. We have seen situations where sentencing has been done with the option of giving a fine, and also we have seen others going for less than 10 years imprisonment.”
“The law is there to determine; the law is there to make sure, at the end of the day, it serves its purpose.
“We cannot have an inconsistency in the application of the law; we cannot have a person raping a 10-year-old going for 15 years, yet, we have a similar case where the person is going for life imprisonment. The law cannot be on two sides, the law has to be what it is, and this is quite black and white. We expect, in terms of child protection in this country, inasmuch as the police have a role to play, the judiciary has a crucial role to play too in terms of interpreting the laws and using it as a deterrent. So that at the end of the day, we have a country where the principles of the law are upheld and ensure the protection of our children,” Fatty added.