This project grew out of the 2008 Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials in Scotland, which discussed issues of overcrowding in prisons and excessive use of pre-trial detention in many countries. This was followed later that year by a pilot workshop in Botswana to consider and make proposals for the adoption and implementation of alternative sentencing measures within small states and Southern African jurisdiction. This was further endorsed by the Meeting of Law Ministers and Attorneys-General of Small Commonwealth Jurisdictions in London, in October 2010.
A CFTC Expert has subsequently been assisting the Attorney General's Office in the formulation of a sentencing policy for Botswana encompassing alternatives to imprisonment, as well as to enhance the capacity of the Attorney General’s Office (working through the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security) in relation to the building of skills with regard to the project.
Ultimately this project will provide Botswana with an alternative sentencing policy and the institutional capacity within the Attorney General’s Office to roll it out. Finally, this allows Botswana to support international human rights, and robust institutional and legal framework standards with respect to criminal sentencing.
Phase 1 of the project focused on the preparation of a comprehensive report detailing the issues to be addressed in formulating the sentencing policy. Principally these issues included: strategies to reduce the reach of the criminal justice system and thus indirectly avoid the use of imprisonment through suitable alternatives at all stages of the criminal justice system; dealing with children who come into conflict with the law; and consideration of the creation of a sentencing commission.
The second and final project phase undertook wider stakeholder consultations on proposed policy changes (title: Supporting the Development of a Sentencing Policy Encompassing Alternatives to Imprisonment in the Administration of Justice in Botswana) incorporating recommendations on alternative sentencing and the establishment of a sentencing commission. By project end, the Ministry received two policy documents ready for Cabinet submission along with proposed supporting legislation design as follows: