The Special Law Commission on the Development of Legislation on sentencing has recommended that any person who commits an offence that causes public harm should not be eligible for pardon even if technically the offence was not serious.
The commission was empanelled in 2013 following observations that there was laxity in sentencing, particularly in rape and defilement offences.
The commission found that there were four ways under the law through which a person serving a prison sentence may be granted early release, among them being good conduct, special grounds, on licence and release under prerogative of mercy by the President.
Pardons have been a bone of contention going by the 2004 pardon of Shabir Suleman who was servinga a five-year term for attempting to bribe a judge while, in 2012, prisoners at Zomba rioted when a man convicted of rape and allegedly related to then president Joyce Banda was released through a presidential pardon.
P r e s e n t i n g t h e recommendations in Lilongwe on Friday, chairperson of the Special Law Commission, Justice Edward Twea, said pardons should be done in a transparent and procedural manner so that the public does not lose trust in the criminal justice system.
He said there were offences for which pardons should not be granted no matter the eligibility of the offender.
The commission has listed 26 offences under which pardons should not be granted, including sexual offences of every nature, child pornography, corruption, serious cybercrimes, theft by public servant and moneylaundering.
The commission has also proposed introduction of parole, which currently is not provided for under the law in Malawi.
But the commission has recommended that to be considered for parole, the person must have served at least half of their total sentence to ascertain if the person had indeed reformed.
The commission has also recommended that the proposed legislation should provide for a list of aggravating and mitigating factors as well as pre-sentencing procedures.
Law Commissioner Gertrude Hiwa said the report on the recommendations and draft Bill would be submitted to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Parliament, after which the ministry would present to Cabinet.
“We are hopeful, the ministry will take up the issue to ensure speedy enactment of the law on sentencing,” Hiwa said