7 February 2013

Tanzania: Graft in Line of Fire As Tanzania Marks Law Day

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete urged officials of the Judiciary to refrain from engaging in corrupt practices in order to restore the confidence of the people, amid fears that justice could not be obtained without being bought.

The president said that he does not believe the claims. However, he pointed out that the complaints of the people on the matter were increasing.

He, therefore, called upon judiciary officers to take due consideration on the issue. He instructed that appropriate measures be taken to remedy the situation.

He was speaking at a ceremony lined up to mark the Law Day under the theme 'Rule of Law, its importance and improvement in the country'. It is an annual event that is marked countrywide. President Kikwete also pointed out that delay in the disposal of cases was another area that generated complaints from the people.

According to him, he is aware of several factors that have been contributing to the delay. These include delay of completion of investigations and conduct of the cases. However, the president advised that the judiciary should sit together with other stakeholders to find ways of ironing out the defects.

On the other hand, he said, the government would play its part in empowering the judiciary, including elevating its budgetary allocation. President Kikwete said he had instructed the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs and his assistants to find possible ways of ring fencing the judiciary budget. He said the government would make sure that the budget that would be approved by Parliament reaches the judiciary timely.

Apart from Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, the host, other top officials in attendance were the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Anna Makinda; Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe; Deputy Attorney General George Masaju and the President of Tanganyika Law Society, Mr Francis Stolla, among others.

Speaking at the same occasion, Justice Chande discouraged the unbecoming behaviour among the people of taking the law into their own hands, purportedly acting on losing confidence on decision making bodies -- the judiciary and police, among them.

For example, he said, between 2000 and 2004 about 1,249 people were lynched, while a study by Legal and Human Rights Centre established last year that 673 people were killed under similar arrangements. He said such behaviour was criminal and defeated the whole concept of rule of law. Mr Stolla challenged, among others, the Parliament to enact laws that provide equal justice to all.

He cited Section 225 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which empowers courts of law to set free accused persons on some offences in case the prosecution fails to complete investigations within 60 days. He said the provision was in favour of the republic as it allows the prosecution to re-arrest such accused and charge them with similar offences and that the Parliament provided any limitation for which the prosecution could behave in such manner.

This, he claimed, defeats the presumption that all people are equal before the law. Mr Masaju, on his part, said that the dependence of the judiciary as enshrined under Article 107B of the Constitution was key element of rule of law. According to him, running the government through constitutionalism could only be in place if a country has a judiciary that is independent.

He said the judiciary becomes independent where it gives its decisions without any pressure from the other side and when the society has suitable system of resolving conflicts, like in Tanzania where such conflicts could be resolved through court process.

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