n Law, Democracy & Development - Human rights and sentencing guidelines

Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



It is widely accepted that the human rights principles of constitutional and international law set outer limits within which any sentencing system must operate. This paper seeks to identify the fundamental human rights principles of relevance to sentencing generally.

It then asks whether these principles are of particular relevance to the development of a system of sentencing guidelines. This question is not only considered with the objective of setting restrictive limits beyond which such guidelines may not stray. An attempt is also made to give an indication from a human rights perspective of what a sentencing framework should seek to achieve both for the offender and for the public at large, including the victims of crime. The answers are illustrated with examples from the debate about the development of sentencing guidelines in South Africa.

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