16 August 2017

Tanzania: Prisoners - We May Be Guilty, but You're Sloppy

GRIEVANCES over unreasonable delays of cases and unfair judgments arose among inmates and prisoners during a visit by the Isles Chief Justice, Omar Makungu, at Kiinua Miguu Prison in Western District, Unguja.

A section of detainees and inmates who had the opportunity to air their grievances during the CJ's visit early this week criticized the court system, saying the government should make drastic changes to fix the sloppy handling of their cases.

Mr Khamis Mohamed, who faces a drug trafficking case, expressed concerns over protracted investigations on their cases, noting that after three years of being under custody there was still no clue when the ruling will come out.

He appealed to the Chief Justice to work on their grievances and speed up the justice system, stressing that their constitutional right to a timely trial was being infringed. Mr Issa Mwema, who saves a three-year sentence after being held guilty for eloping with a girl, who was still under her parent's custodianship, claimed that the case against him was framed.

"Rape charges are now being used as a stick and we're simply being victimized because some of us have been charged maliciously," claimed Mwema, who added despite the fact he was dissatisfied with the ruling and have the constitutional right to appeal, he could not take that option in fear of being slapped with harsher sentence.

The inmate faulted the new legislation that denies rape suspects bail while issuing yet another claim that the bail system in the Zanzibar courts was not treating suspects fairly. Responding, Zanzibar Registrar of the High Court, Mr George Kazi urged inmates who believe their cases were unfairly judged to appeal, insisting it was their constitutional right.

"If you're denied your justice or the case against you was framed why shouldn't you appeal so that justice could be done?" remarked Mr Kazi. CJ Makungu promised to work on the inmates' grievances and make sure human rights are protected by judicial organs.

Zanzibar currently has 490 prisoners, of whom 400 are located in Unguja and 90 in Pemba. There are 128 detainees, all remanded at Kiinua Miguu prison.

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