Sentencing policy and guidelines needed - GHRA

Stabroek News
January 26, 2000

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is calling for clear, appropriate and binding sentencing guidelines in the wake of the penalty handed down in an arms case, which it said delivered a body blow to public confidence in the judiciary and respect for the law.

It said that a sentencing policy and guidelines which respect the principles of "justice and fairness in the results it delivers; consistency in its application; and the treatment of all litigants equally and without discrimination on race, social status, gender, nationality or political persuasion" are urgently needed.

A release from the association yesterday said that "the ludicrously light sentence of one year's imprisonment handed out to Nandkumar Budhan on five charges related to gun smuggling and dropping of all charges against (co-accused) Peter Morgan highlighted once again the need for clear, appropriate and binding sentencing guidelines."

The release said too that "public indignation at the swift manner in which the gun smuggling case was terminated related not only to sentencing but also to the fact that no public explanation will now be forthcoming as to whom the guns were intended for, how extensive gun smuggling has become in Guyana; whether there were any political or drug dimensions in this shipment of arms.

"The Budhan case joins the growing list led by the Monica Reece slaying in which inexplicable things happen despite clear evidence and known suspects", the release said.

The GHRA listed a host of cases where it said there was gross inconsistency in the sentences meted out.

Arising out of the furore over the Budhan case, the Chancellor of the Judiciary Cecil Kennard has convened a conference at which the issue of uneven sentencing will be ventilated once again.

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