Arusha — THE African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (AfCHPR) has ordered Government of Tanzania to amend its legislation to provide individuals with judicial remedies in the event of any dispute over their citizenship.
The Court issued the order in a matter that was filed by Mr Anudo Ochieng Anudo, who had filed a case, challenging withdrawal of his nationality, expulsion from Tanzania and his deportation to Kenya.
He claimed that he was, in turn, expelled back to Tanzania but because he could not enter the country, he remained in the 'no man's land' between the Tanzania-Kenya borders in Sirari. Under its President, Justice Sylvain Ore, the Court ruled that the deportation that took place in 2012 was in violation of Article 15 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that the Government violated the applicant's right not to be expelled arbitrarily.
Also, the Court declared that the Government violated Articles 7 of the Charter and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) relating to the applicant's right to be heard. The Court ordered the Tanzanian Government to take all the necessary steps to restore the applicant's rights, by allowing him to return to the national territory, ensure his protection and submit a report to the Court within 45 days. The applicant was represented by advocate Jane Mary Ruhundwa, a Country Director with Asylum Access, Tanzania and advocate Mwajabu Khalid.
Composed of nine judges and a registrar, the AfCHPR further allowed the applicant to file his written submissions on other forms of reparation within 30 days from the date of notification of the judgment; and the Government would file its submissions within 30 days from the date of receipt of the applicant's submissions. The Court had earlier dismissed preliminary objections in regard to its jurisdiction and admissibility of the application.
The state had stated that the Court had no jurisdiction and the application was not filed within a reasonable time, as the time lapse between the Minister of Home Affairs' final decision on the applicant's issue and the filing of the application was about five months. The Court ruled that it was a reasonable time, given the fact that the applicant was outside the country.
The applicant alleges to have been born in 1979 at Masinono, Butiama, in Mara region, but when processing documents for his marriage in 2012, he approached the Tanzanian authorities at Babati District Police Station. The Police retained his passport on the grounds that there were suspicions regarding his Tanzanian citizenship.
His Tanzanian nationality was then withdrawn and he was ultimately deported. Mr Anudo was asking the Court to cancel the prohibited immigrant notice issued against him and reinstate his nationality by declaring him a citizen of Tanzania; allow him to enter and stay in the country like all its other citizens; ensure his protection by the Government.
He should be protected from victimisation on account of the case and reform its immigration law to guarantee the right to a fair trial before taking any decision that may deprive a person of his fundamental right, like the right to nationality.
He claimed there were issues of corruption in the process of withdrawal of his citizenship. The Republic was represented by Ms Sarah Mwaipopo - the Director, Division of Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights; Ms Nkasori Sarakikya - Assistant Director, Human Rights and a Principal State Attorney; Mr Baraka Luvanda - an Ambassador, Head of Legal Unit - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Regional Cooperation.
Others on part of the Republic were Ms Aida Kisumo - State Attorney at Attorney General's Chambers; Ms Blandina Kasagama who is a Legal Officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Regional Cooperation; Advocate Abubakar Mrisha, Senior State Attorney at Attorney General's Chambers and Advocate Msillo Mgaza who is the Inspector from the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Republic had prayed the Court to declare that the respondent had not violated the applicant's right to personal freedom and the right to life; that the allegations of corruption are false; dismiss the application for lack of merit and grant it leave to file additional evidence pursuant to Rule 50 of the Rules of Court.