African Court Rules on Tanzanian Rights Violations

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Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

DODOMA, Tanzania – On Friday, September 18th the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (AfCHPR) issued decisions of their 50th Ordinary Session. All applications were filed against the Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania.

African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights. Photo Courtesy of AfCHPR.

It was originally reported that judgements would be issued on three pending cases, however only two decisions were finalized and published by the court. The court published judgements on the matters of Anaclet Paulo and Diocles William.

Anaclet Paulo filed an application to AfCHPR alleging that the United Republic of Tanzania had violated the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights by denying his right to be heard, right to legal aid, and right to bail. Paulo was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison for armed robbery and violence in 1997.

AfCHPR unanimously held that the United Republic of Tanzania did not violate Paulo’s rights to freedom, right to be heard, and the Charter was not violated by the original conviction. The court ruled that Paulo’s right to defense was violated and ordered the Tanzania to pay Paulo 300,000 Tanzanian shillings (approximately $130 USD) as fair compensation for unfair access to legal representation.

In the second judgement, the court ruled on the matter of Diocles William. William was convicted in 2010 to 30 years in prison and 12 strokes of the cane for raping a minor. William alleged that the United Republic of Tanzania violated his right to be heard, right to legal aid, and right to equal representation.

AfCHPR ruled unanimously that the violation of equal rights wasn’t established by the William but Tanzania did violate the Charter by not providing legal aid, failing to hear defense witnesses, and convicting William with both insufficient evidence and contradicting witness statements. The court ordered the United Republic of Tanzania to reopen the case and guarantee a fair trial.

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