The High Court has set April 17, this year, as the a date judges will decide
the fate of the anti-death penalty case filed by civil societies in 2008.
The petition was filed by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), in
collaboration with the SAHRINGON Tanzania Chapter and the Tanganyika Law
Society (TLS). It calls on the government to strike off capital punishment from
its statute books due to its denying the victim the right to life.
Speaking to the Guardian immediately after coming from the court, a legal
officer from LHRC, who has been pursuing the matter Fulgence Massawe, said the
matter had taken quite long, adding that the court had failed to hear the
petition owing to the current renovations of the High Court building, leading
to the failure to form a 3-judge panel as the law requires on human rights
“The High Court building is undergoing major renovations and the assigned
judges are now in separate offices, making it even harder to decide the matter.
However, Judge Rugazia has set April 17 as the date for us to appear in court,”
The petition was lodged on October 10, 2008 b the Legal and Human Rights Centre
(LHRC) in collaboration with the SAHRINGON Tanzania Chapter and the Tanganyika
They urge the government to subsitute it with life imprisonment for persons
convicted of murder. The activists call upon the need to abolish the death
penalty on account that no justice system is safe from judicial error, hence
innocent people are likely to be sentenced to death.
In Tanzania there have been several historical decisions that were made to
depict the evil deed of the death penalty. The late Justice James Mwalusanya,
in the famous Republic v Mbushuu alias Dominic Mnyaroje case of 1994 boldly
challenged the constitutionality of the death penalty.
”I hold that the two petitioners have managed to prove, on the balance of
probabilities, that the death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading
punishment and or treatment, and also that it offends the right to the dignity
of man in the process of execution of the sentence.
"At the same time the Republic has failed to prove, on a balance of
probabilities, that the impugned law is in the public interest and that it is a
lawful law under article 30(2) of the cConstitution. It is therefore my finding
that the death penalty is unconstitutional and so void as per article 64(5) of
Amnesty International maintains that more often prisoners with influential
families or other connections are more likely to escape execution, unlike those
who are poor and come from marginalized communities.
“In short, the death penalty is not only applied unfairly and in a secretive
manner, but rather it is also discriminatory and is used against those who are
least able to access their rights. It is little more than a macabre lottery
whose consequences, for many, are lethal,” it says.
(source: The Guardian)