Walking in the Dark: Lack in the Use of Criminal Statistics for Public Policy and Legislative Actions

  • Simeneh Kiros Assefa


As an exercise of sovereign power, the lawmaker adopts public policies to achieve certain ends. However, public policies need justifications. One such public policy is criminalisation of conduct whereby the lawmaker may have to use both doctrinal and empirical justifications. Such empirical justification is criminal statistics. All the three organs – the police, the prosecution office and the court – are required by law to collect and keep criminal statistics. Statistical data may not be available for initial adoption of legislation; yet they are essential inputs during the revision process. Even though criminal statistics do not define the outcome of the decision of the lawmaker, one would expect that they would be used as one major input for the continuous evaluation of such law. This article examines the use of criminal statistics in the adoption/revision of criminal provisions and finds that no criminal statistics is presented in the legislative process. This appears to be for two reasons. First, the various bills were drawn up and presented by agencies claiming to have specialisation on the subject; often, such agencies do not possess criminal statistics. Second, even for those bills drawn up by agencies with potential criminal statistics, the lawmaking process is skewed, that it does not demand aspiration to make ‘good’ laws.

Key terms

Criminal statistics · Criminalisation · Legislative reform · Legislative rationality


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2309-902X
print ISSN: 1998-9881