"Over-criminalisation": A Review of Special Penal Legislation and Administrative Penal Provisions in Ethiopia

  • Simeneh Kiros
  • Cherinet Hordofa
Keywords: Criminalisation, over-criminalisation, legal good, common good, ultima ratio, criminal law, special legislation.


Criminadsation is the most intrusive state action; as such, it requires strong justification. Looking merely at the doctrinalj ustifications, in the common-law system, harm is the single most important justification for criminadsation. In the continental system, however, there are positive and negative requirements to be compled with. The positive requirement is that the law is intended to protect 'legal good' Such legal good covers interests that are essential for the sodal existence of the individual. The negative requirement is ultima ratio. Further, when the criminal law is used, the means-end proportionaliky is required to be maintained. The criminal law is one body of law. Thus, the General Part of the criminal law is appdcable to offences stated both in the Speial Part of the Criminal Code and those stated in speial penal legislation or penal provisions contained in administrative regulatory legislation. The notion of legal good is incorporated into Art 1 of the Criminal Code in broader context as 'common good'. However, the law maker adopted several pieces ofpenal legislation and extensive penal
prod/ sions contained in administrative regulatory legislation contrary to such 'legislative promise' In those penal provisions, the law maker criminadses conducts that were already criminadsed in the Criminal Code, save they increase the punishment. The legislator aiminaises conducts contrary to the prinples of criminadsation, including the prinples in the General Part of the Criminal Code, such as, the priniple of legality and the prinple of lenigy. The legislator is consistent in choosing increased penal sentence both in absolute and relative standards. It is this excessive use of criminal law and excessive punishment that is presented as over-cimina/sation.


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