Regional High Level Consultation Dialogue Report on Implementation and Domestication of AU Standards to Decriminalize Petty Offences
SADC Lawyers Association’s primary mandate is to promote good governance & the rule of law in the SADC region. There has been prevalent existence and application of petty offenses in the region & on the 28th of May, 2021, the SADC-LA with the assistance of OSISA facilitated a High-Level Consultation on the Implementation of AU standards to decriminalize petty offences. The objective of the dialogue was to identify the positive endings, risk factors and to lay down recommendations which are essential to establish an effective strategy for implementation from both state and non-state actors.
On behalf of the stakeholders present, the opening address was delivered by Mrs. Sashi Nchito who is a member of the SADC-LA Executive Committee. Sashi Nchito recognized the presence of stakeholders from the Hon Minister of Justice in Namibia & The State Counsel of Zambia as well as the other stakeholders present. She explained how petty offences negatively affect the rights of marginalized groups due to selective application of the laws which violates fundamental human rights like dignity, freedom of movement & natural justice. It was highlighted that the current state of petty offences is consequential to criminalization of poverty discrimination of the poor from economic activity and decent living in accordance with international human rights standards. Mrs Nchito outlined that in promotion of the rule of law & access to justice, it is important to sheer potential impact to deliver, amplify and direct critical messaging on matters of developmental significance in the Sub – Saharan region. She also noted that SADC-LA is excited to join the campaign on decriminalization of petty offences, recognize and acknowledge the work of existing partners which has resulted in many milestones and achievements, most recent among these, an advisory opinion on the ACHPR on petty offences and vagrancy laws. Mrs Nchito also observed that the ACHPR advisory opinion mandates states to amend and realign their laws accordingly, which presents an opportunity to all stakeholders to collaborate efforts & input a positive contribution in the implementation of AU standards.