On 28 and 29 June 2019, Professor Julian Roberts of the Law Faculty at Oxford University, convened a seminal expert Workshop on Sentencing in East and Southern Africa. The seminar at the St Cross Building was supported by the Africa Oxford Initiative and the Centre of Criminology. The two-day Workshop brought together leading Sentencing scholars and practitioners from eight African jurisdictions discuss the challenges of sentencing law and practice as well as to consider the prospects for reform. The challenges that were identified include the lack of consistency in the approach to sentencing, the adverse effects of statutorily prescribed mandatory sentencing minimums, and the overuse of incarceration. Various approaches that have been adopted, such as the institution of Sentencing Guidelines to provide for more principled and proportionate sentences, were considered.
Along with additional papers from other African jurisdictions the conference papers will be published in a special journal issue of the South African Journal of Criminal Justice in 2020. This will be the first collection of papers on sentencing in Africa. The Oxford Africa Sentencing Seminar is the first event in a new collaboration involving Oxford and academic and practitioners from across Southern and Eastern Africa. The next meeting of the initiative will take place in a partner country late in 2020.
Oxford Human Rights Hub Research Director and DPhil in Law candidate Ndjodi Ndeunyema, pictured above, co-authored the Namibian paper with a Namibian High Court Judge, and served as Research Assistant to Professor Roberts for purposes of the Workshop’s organisation.