Chief Justice Othman Chande has said it’s high time for the government to come up with a national policy and law that would govern provision of legal aid in the country to enable many people, especially the poor, access justice.
The CJ made the remark in Dar es Salaam yesterday at a function to mark the 16th anniversary of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), which coincided with the inauguration of the renovated LHRC’s Legal Aid Clinic building at Kinondoni.
The Legal Aid Clinic building has been given the name of late Justice James Mwalusanya to honour his effort to defend human rights.
CJ Chande said that legislations on provision of legal aid would help to move the legal services close to the people and thereby enable them secure justice.
“Having good laws and courts is not enough. We want many people to benefit from these services, especially the poor, who lack funds to obtain justice,” the CJ said.
He further explained that the country must come up with a complete policy on legal aid, which would specify the beneficiaries, responsible entities for providing the legal aid as well as sources of funds.
Chande explained that legal aid services for the needy were an alternative to enable the poor access justice, considering the fact that the number of independent lawyers, around 2000, is too small to serve over 44 million people.
The CJ called for review of some sections of the constitution to incorporate social and economic rights. “Economic and social rights are not clearly stated in the country’s constitution…human rights are not only political or social rights, but they must focus to all people such as rights to employment and better house.
“There are countries like Kenya and South Africa which have amended their constitutions, but our constitution should not copy from other countries…we want a constitution which will benefit Tanzanians,” CJ Chande stressed.
Commenting on capital punishment, he said the country’s laws allowed the death penalty although many countries have already repealed it. He said currently the Law Reform Commission was working on the matter and when it was done with the job, it would come up with recommendations for further actions.
Justice Chande commended the work done by the late Mwalusanya, saying that he had brought great changes in the country.
“It is very rare giving a judgment without referring to the judgments issued by justice Mwalusanya…the name of this building will be a memory for the future generations which will ensure that they live by observing human rights,”
For his part, LHRC executive director Francis Kiwanga said that the renovated legal aid clinic offered services to over 10,000 people per year. He commended all the donors and partners for working closely with his centre to ensure that people access justice.
Kiwanga said that his centre had chose Justice Mwalusanya’s name due to his outstanding contribution in the legal sector, particularly human rights. Justice Mwalusanya died in August last year.