The Ministry of Justice is planning to introduce new guidelines to be followed by judges of all courts in sentencing convicts, especially sex offenders.
The move comes in the wake of increased crimes and sexual abuse of minors where many under-aged girls have been brutally gang raped and killed in the recent times.
Sixteen-year-old Vithya Sivaloganathan was abducted, brutally raped by a gang on her way to school at Pungundithivu, Jaffna in May last year. Last week, 13-year-old Harshavi Gangatharan, a student of Vipulananda Vidyalam, Vavuniya was gang raped and killed.
The Ministry of Justice has already appointed a team of experts headed by the former Attorney General Palitha Fernando to look into this matter and make recommendations which would later be introduced into the legal system as an Act of Parliament.
The former AG told Nation that the idea is not to remove the discretion currently enjoyed by the judges but to have a set of guidelines which they could follow so that there will be some uniformity with regards to sentencing.
“Matters taken into consideration by Judges when sentencing must be similar and in this aspect, there cannot be differences. We have to look at the reasons and the conflicts”, he said. He said that already a team of young lawyers have been sent to court houses countrywide and they have gathered information such as reasons given by Judges for imposing lenient sentences as well as severe punishments.
“We are now analyzing this information and will be looking at similar guidelines in other Commonwealth countries. We seek to reconcile variances while also taking into account, the thinking of Judges in Sri Lanka with regard to what matters should be considered when sentencing, Fernando said.