Malawi's Missing Court Files and the Kafantayeni Resentencing Project
- CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Journal of African Law, 2020, 64, (3), pp. 319-336
- Issue Date:
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Missing court files pose a serious issue regarding access to justice for illiterate and indigent prisoners, especially if the files go missing after the prisoner has been convicted and sentenced. Malawi's High Court recently grappled with the issue of missing court files post-conviction in the course of a large resentencing process, known to the legal community as the Kafantayeni Project. The Kafantayeni Project resentenced over 150 prisoners whose mandatory death sentences for murder were deemed unconstitutional, despite the majority of them missing court files. This article outlines the state of judicial record keeping in sub-Saharan Africa, the origins of the Kafantayeni Project, the extent of the record keeping problem it uncovered, how the judiciary resolved those issues while adding to the jurisprudence on missing court files, and the future implications for Malawi and elsewhere.
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