Submission of Victim Impact Statement to a Sentencing Judge: The Significance of Introducing the Scheme to Sentencing Hearing in Nigeria
Keywords:victim, victim impact statement, sentence, criminal justice, harm
The current Nigerian criminal justice system prevents rime victims from having the benefit of telling the sentencing judge what harm they have suffered and how their need for effective recovery may be attended to. Whereas different victim-oriented policies and programmes have emerged in the English criminal justice system and those of some common law countries, the voice of the crime victim is still opaque to the sentencing judge in Nigeria. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which requires a sentencing judge to consider— among others—the interest of the victim in his sentence, leaves the judge with wide discretion that has occasioned some inconsistencies in sentencing outcomes. Accordingly, the article aims to do a comparative study of the English criminal justice system and a few other common law jurisdictions to find out how this lapse in the law can be corrected. The study adopts the doctrinal methodology to discover how the English sentencing judge is assisted to understand and attend to the effects of crime on the victim. The research discovers that the use of the Victim Personal Statement—referred to as Victim Impact Statement (VIS) in other jurisdictions—has tremendously helped both the sentencing judge and the victim in this regard. Accordingly, the article recommends the use of the VIS in the sentencing hearing in Nigeria in order to cover the gap in the law and promote the recognition of the harm suffered by crime victims.
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