Tanzania: Rape Convict Loses Appeal Against Tanzanian Govt

THE African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (AfCHPR) has dismissed an application by Tanzanian Kalebi Elisamehe, who claimed the government violated human rights against him after being sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment for raping a 12-year-old girl by local courts.

Justices of the African Court held that "the Tanzanian judicial authorities exercised their prerogatives in accordance with the applicable international standards in the matter."

During the hearing of the application, Elisaheme accused the United Republic of Tanzania of violating his right to a fair trial, including the violation of the right to legal aid and the right to defence, the defectiveness of a charge sheet, failure to review decisions of the lower courts, poor assessment of the evidence and delays in the determination of a request for review.

In view of such alleged violations, the applicant requested the AfCHPR to grant him fair compensation under Article 27(1) of the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Protocol).

However, in their judgment delivered on Friday, the court held that the allegations regarding the defective nature of the charge sheet, the refusal to review the decisions of the lower courts, poor evaluation of the evidence, delays in the determination of the request for review have not been established.

The court further dismissed the applicant's request for quashing the sentence imposed on him and released from prison. The justices held that such an order was justified only in cases where the violation found vitiated the conviction and the sentence, which was not the case with the applicant.

With regard to the applicant's request to be released from prison, the court held that the applicant had not shown that his conviction was based entirely on arbitrary considerations and that his continued imprisonment would result in a denial of justice.

On the other hand, the court held that Tanzania had violated the applicant's right to a fair trial as enshrined in Article 7(1)(c) of the Charter interpreted in light of Article 14(3)(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for having failed to provide him with free legal aid during trial.

The court considered that the fact that the applicant was indigent, that the offence he was charged with was serious with a heavy penalty of a minimum of 30 years in prison justified the provision of free legal aid in the interest of justice, whether or not the applicant requested for it.

Following the finding of such a violation, the court ordered Tanzania to pay the applicant 300,000/-as compensation for the moral prejudice he suffered as a result, the money which to be paid free of tax within six months of notification of the judgment.

The facts of the case dates back to the applicant's arrest in 2003 for raping a 12-year-old girl. On March 6, 2004, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison before the Monduli District Court in Arusha. The applicant was also ordered to deliver a cow worth 200,000/-to the victim as compensation.

Having been aggrieved, the applicant appealed against the judgment before the High Court of Tanzania sitting in Arusha. The High Court, on July 9, 2009, upheld the conviction and the sentence imposed on him. He subsequently appealed unsuccessfully to the High Court's decision before the Court of Appeal.

The applicant also claimed to have filed, on January 9, 2013, a notice of motion for review of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, and that such an action was pending at the time he filed the application before the African Court.

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