‘It is Better that Ten Guilty Persons Escape than that One Innocent Suffer’: The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Fair Trial Rights in Tanzania
African Human Rights Yearbook 1 (2017)
26 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 13, 2017
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) has recently been flooded with fair trial cases against its host state, Tanzania. To date, the African Court has disposed with five of these cases on the merits, and dismissed the other as being inadmissible. These cases are Abubakari v Tanzania, Jonas v Tanzania, Nganyi v Tanzania, Onyachi v Tanzania, and Thomas v Tanzania. Numerous similar cases, all alleging that Tanzania is in violation of fair trial rights as guaranteed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other human rights instruments, are pending before the African Court. This article traces the involvement of the African Court, in the context of the five decided cases, in nurturing fair trial norms in Tanzania. On the one hand, the emerging Court jurisprudence on fair trial is of importance for the promotion and protection of fair trial norms on the continent; and, on the other hand, it is an opportunity for the African Court to firmly stamp its authority in this thematic domain, taking into account of the little jurisprudence it has in its disposal. In some cases, the African Court has shied away from granting effective remedies in favour of the applicants, whose fair trial rights were ruled to be violated. Further, an assessment of the cases gives an impression that the country’s judiciary and prosecuting authority are careless and sloppy in their application of fair trial standards. There therefore is a need for domestic fair trial rights to be strengthened.
Keywords: African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, fair trial rights
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