The government has launched a programme aimed at making the criminal justice system more effective by improving the processes involved in investigating, prosecuting and trying offenders.
Improving the performance of the criminal justice system
Improvements to the criminal justice system are needed to remedy the following problems.
Sometimes defendants have to spend too long awaiting trial.
It is not always clear whether a decision not to prosecute is justified.
Sometimes after judgment has been given in a case the sentence is carried out at a much later date or not at all, for example because the offender cannot be found.
Criminal cases could be handled more quickly.
These are some of the important conclusions set out in the audit report published by the Courts Audit in 2021 (Performance of the Criminal Justice System).
The government’s goals for improving the criminal justice system
The government has set the following goals aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the criminal justice system:
More criminal cases must be completed successfully. The police and the Public Prosecution Service must make clear agreements about which cases deserve extra attention.
Convicted offenders must actually serve their sentence: 92% of custodial sentences must be carried out within a year.
Suspects must be brought to trial sooner. Two-thirds of simple criminal cases must be processed within a month.
Procedural documents must wherever possible be made available in digital form to lawyers and the public.
The procedure for lodging a criminal complaint must be made simpler, with more consideration for victims. For example, victims should be personally informed about how their complaint was handled.
These goals must be achieved by the end of 2023.
National criminal Justice reference service (NCJRS)
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Barrister Margaret Akpa is a Human Rights Lawyer based in Abuja, Nigeria.