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Top court again orders Tanzania to scrap death penalty

Publish date: 10 June 2024
Issue Number: 1080
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Legislation

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has reiterated its longstanding order to Tanzania to revoke the death penalty in line with the continental charter on the right to life. Delivering judgment on two separate cases, the court sitting in Arusha emphasised again that mandatory capital punishment was a violation of the African Charter and gave the country six months to remove it from its legal statutes, according to a report in The Citizen. Nzigiyimana Zabron, a Burundi national, and Tanzanian Dominick Damian are convicted murderers who have been on death row at Mwanza's Butimba Central Prison for the past 12 years. While the continental court has issued several similar orders for Tanzania to scrap the death penalty in recent years, the punishment has remained enshrined in the country's Penal Code despite growing opposition against it as a colonial era legacy. Tanzania is among several African countries that continue to retain it despite a 1999 resolution by the African Commission for Human and People's Rights calling on African Union member states to observe a moratorium on capital punishment. Only eight countries have abolished it in law and practice in the past 10 years, since 2014. Others are eyeing formal abolition while continuing to mete out the sentence for major offences. Many, including Tanzania and Kenya, have not carried out any executions for years. In a July 2023 report, a Tanzanian Government commission overseeing judicial reforms proposed that death sentences should be commuted to life imprisonment as a more ‘humane’ option.

Full report in The Citizen

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