In an important new decision, Namibia’s highest court has held that judges in that country may not impose jail terms that are “longer than a life sentence”. Prisoners serving life may be considered for possible parole after 25 years, and the supreme court has now held that any sentence in which parole is not at least notionally possible after 25 years, would be unconstitutional. The court was dealing with an appeal in which a trial court had imposed sentences of well over 60 years.
NAMIBIAN judges may no longer impose extremely long jail terms that leave a prisoner worse off than under a conventional life sentence. The country’s top court has found it unconstitutional to hand down “informal life sentences”, via jail terms that are so long that offenders have no possible hope of ever being released before they die.