Skip to main content

Legal Help | Ayuda


Tanzania - Universal Periodic Review - Death Penalty - March 2021

The Advocates for Human Rights, together with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Legal and Human Rights Centre, Reprieve, and The Children Education Society submitted a stakeholder report relating to the death penalty in Tanzania for the 39th session of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review. 

Despite observing a de facto moratorium on executions since 1994, Tanzanian courts continue to sentence people to death. The Penal Code mandates application of the death penalty by "hanging" for treason and murder. Police are trained inadequately to investigate murders, and the courts give no consideration for mitigating factors or defenses. Although Tanzania ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, there are reports of violations of fair trial obligations under that treaty. This includes inadequate legal representation, defense preparation time, and translators for defendants, often in poor or rural communities. Lack of police training and resources on informing suspects of their constitutional rights exacerbates these violationswith suspects often lacking representation during custodial questioning. In addition, people living on death row reportedly receive different treatment from others in prison, including receiving inadequate food, water, and health care, and they face psychological duress at the prospect of their execution, even though executions have unofficially ceased. 

The authors of the report suggest the following recommendationfor Tanzania: 

  • Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. 

  • Fully implement the African Court's Ally Rajabu decision, including by ensuring that all persons sentenced to death by virtue of a mandatory death penalty have fair and transparent resentencing hearings with legal representation provided by the State. 

  • Abolish the death penalty and replace it with penalties that are fair, proportionate, and aligned with international human rights standards. 

  • Ensure that all courts, when deciding whether to impose a death sentence, take into consideration all mitigating factors. 

  • Commission an independent, impartial investigation of prison conditions for people on death row, including the adequacy of food, water, medicine, fresh air, exercise, access to mental health professionals, education, and vocational training, and ensure that detention conditions in these respects comply with the Nelson Mandela Rules. 

  • Prohibit the introduction of evidence obtained under duress, and issue guidelines on the steps judges must take when a defendant alleges torture, including ordering an independent investigation of all credible allegations and taking immediate steps to protect individuals alleging torture or ill-treatment from retaliation.  

  • Require police to inform persons suspected of capital offenses of their constitutional rights and provide the police with adequate training to identify people with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities and/or a history of abuse and trauma and to accommodate their conditions in conducting investigatory work.