Amiri Ramadhani vs United Republic of Tanzania

On May 11th, 2016, Mr. Amiri Ramadhani, (the applicant), filed an application instituting proceeding against the United Republic of Tanzania before the African Court of Human and Peoples’Rights (the ACHPR or the Court) for alleged violations of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its articles 1 to 7.

Mr. Ramadhani had been tried and convicted of armed robbery, attempted suicide and serious bodily harm by the Arusha District Court on August 25th, 1999. This sentence was confirmed successively by the High of Tanzania on September 22nd, 2005 and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania on October 29th, 2007. At the time of the application, he was incarcerated in Ukonga Central Prison serving a 30 years sentence.

s a preliminary point, Tanzania raised objections relating to the lack of jurisdiction of the Court and inadmissibility of the application. After examining the matters, the Court concluded that the case was admissible and declared itself competent to hear it. It then turned to the merits of the case and noted that the applicant had only submitted arguments regarding the violation of the right to a fair trial (article 7 of the Charter):

  • As regards the alleged defects which vitiated due process, the applicant submitted that his conviction was partly based on information obtained in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which the respondent State denied. The Court notes that the applicant has not provided any evidence to assess that fact and therefore rejects this argument.
  • As regards the lack of legal aid, the applicant alleged that, being indigent, it was imperative to receive legal aid in so far as he was being tried for a crime considered to be serious. Tanzania replied that the complainant had never applied for it. The Court, re-affirming here its settled case-law, concludes that in the circumstances of the present case the State should, of its own motion and free of charge, offer legal aid to the applicant. Having failed to do so, Tanzania did indeed violate Article 7(1) of the Charter.
  • As to the unlawful nature of the 30-year prison sentence imposed on him, the Applicant submitted that at the time of his conviction the maximum legally prescribed sentence was 15 years, which the respondent State disputed. The Court observes that the sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment has been the minimum penalty for the offence of armed robbery in Tanzania since 1994. Since the applicant’s judgement was handed down in 1999, the sentence imposed was not unlawful.
  • As regards the alleged violation of his rights (Article 1 of the Charter), the Court merely finds that, having already concluded that the applicant’s right to assistance had been infringed, there is necessarily a violation of Article 1 of the Charter.

The Court rejected the applicant’s request for release and postponed the issue of reparations to a later date.

Judgment of 11-05-2018.pdf

On November 21st, 2019, the Republic of Tanzania deposited the instruments of withdrawal of the Court’s declaration of jurisdiction to receive applications from individuals and non-governmental organizations. In issuing its decision on June 25th, 2021, the Court has been faithful to its consistent jurisprudence of dealing with all cases enrolled in the Registry before the date of entry into force of the withdrawal of the declaration. 

It awarded 300,000 Tanzanian Shillings to the applicant for non-pecuniary damage suffered. This sum must be paid to the applicant tax-free within 6 months of notification of this decision, otherwise he will have to pay default interest.

Judgment of 25-06-2021.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.