Tanzania called to revisit law on capital punishment

30Nov 2019
The Guardian Reporter
Zanzibar
The Guardian
Tanzania called to revisit law on capital punishment

THE Tanzanian government has been called to revisit its laws regarding the capital punishment.

Sylvain Ore

President of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, Justice Sylvain Ore made the call yesterday when giving judgment on appeal by one Ali Rajab and five others against the government of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The murder case involving Ali Rajab and others is among several cases that were heard by the African Court that sat in Zanzibar to deliberate on the eight appeals, out of judgments were given on seven.

The case against capital punishment was the that attracted many people at Kariakoo Zanzibar because anti-capital punishment activists all over the world want to see the punishment abolished claiming that it is against the rights of a human being as well the country’s Constitution .

The appellants Ali Rajab at others who were sentenced to death 12 years ago claim they were not given enough opportunity by the courts to listen to them and also the sentence is against human rights, the claims which in large measure the judges of the African Court on Human and People’s concurred with.

Others who were sentenced to death in the said case were Angaja Kazeni, Geoffrey Stanley, Emmanuel Michael and Julius Michael all of whom have been in jail for eight years.

In the 45-minute judgment the court which for the first time ever sat in Zanzibar has given directives to the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to revisit the law it uses to mete out death sentence because it goes against African as well as international agreements and protocols and that it does not give judges freeway to mete out alternate punishment.

In addition the court has given directives to the Government to pay 4m/- to each appellant for all the time they have been in jail as one way of mitigation from the pangs they have undergone for 12 years.

Five out of the eight cases that were referred to The African Court on Human and People’s Rights and rulings given thereon involves the government of the United Republic of Tanzania and others concerned the countries of Benin, Ghana and Rwanda.

It was the African Court on Human and People’s Rights 55th session since its establishment in 2006 in Ethiopia and later moved to its permanent residence in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Court, with 11 judges from AU member countries operates in five zones and each zone contributes one judge on rotation basis and the judge’s tenures is six years which is renewable for another six year term.

More than 80 percent appeals filed in the Court come from Tanzania of which the majority of them are filed by people serving life sentences.

Out of the 55 AU members 30 have ratified the protocol that established the court out of which only nine have announced to allow NGOs and individuals to refer their appeals to the Court. These are Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Malawi, Ghana, Tunisia and host Tanzania.

The Court’s ruling and Capital punishment comes at a time the world expects to mark the International Day against Capital Punishment on December 10 when the issue of abolishing capital punishment will prominently feature.

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