Sentencing in Ethiopia: Sanctions, guidelines and reform

Author Kassahun Molla Yilma

ISSN: 1996-2118
Affiliations: LLB LLM MSc [Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands], Legal Consultant at International Tribunal and Researcher, The Hague, Netherlands.
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 33 Issue 1, p. 148 – 167


This article explores the Ethiopian sentencing framework. Ethiopia is one of the few African jurisdictions to develop a systematic sentencing guidelines system. These guidelines have been in operation for several years now, and represent a useful model for other African states to adopt. Although a number of problems remain (and are discussed in this article) the Ethiopian guidelines follow a principled approach to sentencing and are likely to have achieved beneficial effects with respect to trial court sentencing practices. This positive development can be complemented by introducing reform in several other areas, which are also suggested in this article. These include expanding the existing sanctions, establishing institutional facilities for the enforcement of alternative sanctions, and establishing a custody threshold.