The Punch

Group wants non-custodial sentences for petty offenders to aid decongesti­on

- ALEXANDER OKERE

Anon-government­al organisati­on, Legal Assistance and Citizens Rights Initiative, has called for the non-custodial sentences for petty offences as part of efforts to decongest correction­al centres across the country.

It said the measure would also decriminal­ise petty offences and further strengthen the criminal justice system.

The executive Secretary of LACRI, Mr Arinze Odiari, made the call while speaking at a workshop on the developmen­t of an action plan for decriminal­isation of petty offences in South-west pilot States (Lagos and Oyo) in Lagos.

The two-day workshop was organised by the National human Rights Commission, with support from the Network of African National human Rights Institutio­ns, according to a statement titled, ‘Congestion: LACRI advocates against imprisonme­nt for petty offences,’ on Saturday.

Odiari said such non-custodial sentences would help reduce congestion in our correction­al centers and reduce the discrimina­tion against the vulnerable in the society.

According to him, community service should completely take the place of fines as the poor were usually not able to pay these fines as ordered by the courts and as a result were thrown into prison, thereby causing further hardship on the poor who are already victims of lack of social security.

Also speaking, NHRC’S Deputy Director, Investigat­ion, Mr Iheme Richmond, emphasised the need to underscore the economic, social and cultural implicatio­ns of petty offences with the aim of addressing challenges of social security in the country.

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