oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Admissibility of confessions in criminal trials in Botswana: an appraisal of the statutory provisions
'When a confession is well proved it is the best evidence that can be produced'. This statement underscores the importance of confessions in a criminal trial. Law enforcement agencies (notably the police) therefore very often place undue weight on the need to secure a confession from an accused person, at the expense of a thorough investigation of a crime. Consequently, the law in the accusatorial criminal law system, such as exists in Botswana, tries to formulate rules by which temptation to use improper inducements and other similar tactics to obtain confessions are reduced to the barest minimum, if not entirely removed. Such rules need to be applied rigorously to ensure fairness to the accused as well as the State. The article attempts to examine the statutory provisions governing the admissibility of confessions, their judicial interpretation, attempts by the judiciary to safeguard the rights of the accused person in their application and to evaluate their practical efficacy.
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