United Republic of Tanzania—Human Rights Committee—Death Penalty—January 2021

The Advocates for Human Rights, along with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and the Legal and Human Rights Centre, submitted a report suggesting List of Issues Prior to Reporting on the death penalty in the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanzania) for the 131st Session of the Human Rights Committee.

There are four main areas of concern relating to the death penalty in TanzaniaFirstly, Tanzanian courts continue to sentence people to death, and the Tanzanian Penal Code retains a mandatory death penalty (the only exception is for convicted pregnant women), despite de facto moratorium on executions in place since 1994. The Tanzanian Attorney General has also indicated that Tanzania would disregard the 2019 judgment by African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the same matter due to precedence of the Constitution over international judgments. A second issue is that when the defendant is at risk of being sentenced to death, Tanzania does not uphold its fair trial obligations under the Covenant. Defendants sometimes receive inadequate legal aid, are paraded before the media by the police, are given insufficient time to prepare an adequate defense, and are tortured, abused, and threatened to obtain evidence against them under duress. People under the death sentence also face psychological torture, overcrowding, inadequate food and waterpoor sanitation and insufficient healthcare. These conditions violate articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Covenant). Lastly, the procedures for requesting or obtaining a commutation of a death sentence or a pardon for a capital conviction are not transparent. The president has discretional power to exercise his prerogative of mercy but there is no procedure stipulated.

The authors of report suggest the following questions for the government of Tanzania

  • What measures has the Tanzanian government taken to give effect to the judgment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the case of Ally Rajabu and Others v. United Republic of Tanzania?

  • What impediments is Tanzania facing in instituting a formal, de jure moratorium on the death penalty, and becoming a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant?

  • What remedies are provided to individuals found to have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death?

  • What financial support does the State provide to indigent defendants in capital cases to ensure that they are able to conduct a thorough investigation and mount an adequate defense at trial?

  • What training does the State provide to attorneys who take on death penalty cases through the legal aid scheme or on a pro bono basis?

  • What laws and procedures are in place to prevent courts from considering evidence obtained under duress?

  • What steps has Tanzania taken to ensure that detention conditions comply with the Nelson Mandela Rules, particularly Rules 15-18 regarding sanitation and personal hygiene, Rule 22 regarding food and drinking water, Rules 24-35 regarding health care services and health inspections, Rule 43 regarding torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and Rules 83-85 regarding inspections?

  • What procedures are in place to respond to and investigate complaints of torture or ill-treatment in detention facilities?

  • What procedure did the President use to select the 256 persons who benefitted from commutation of their death sentences in December 2020?