Cosma Faustin vs United Republic of Tanzania

On March 22nd, 2016, Mr Cosma Faustin, applicant, filed an application instituting proceedings before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) concerning alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its Articles 3 (1) and (2) and 7(1).

Mr Cosma had been tried and sentenced to death for the crime of premeditated murder by the High Court of Tanzania on August 23rd, 2007 which was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 08 November 2011. Throughout the proceedings, he had argued that, on the one hand, the crime had not been premeditated and should be reclassified as manslaughter and that, on the other hand, the witness statements were neither consistent nor credible and should be rejected. At the time of the filing of his application, he was incarcerated in Butimba Central Prison and was awaiting the execution of the death sentence imposed on him.

The applicant did not request provisional measures. However, the Court applied Article 27(2) of the Protocol and Article 51(1) of its Rules of Procedure and concluded that in the present case, circumstances of extreme gravity, urgency and the risk of irreparable harm justified the taking of such measures. In its Order dated June 3rd 2016, the Court ordered the Respondent State to stay the application of the death sentence imposed on Mr. Cosma, stating that this decision was without prejudice to its ruling on the merits of the case.

Order of 03-06-2016.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 September 30th, 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.

As 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:

  • As regards, first of all, the applicant’s alleged violation of his right to a fair trial, protected by Article 7(1) of the Charter, he submits, inter alia, that:
    • His right to be heard by an impartial court was not respected, which the respondent State contests: after examining the pleas presented, the Court concluded that no denial of justice or manifest error was apparent. It therefore rejected that first part of the argument;
    • Part of its defence has not been taken into consideration before the national courts: the Court has recalled its settled case-law that the examination of facts and particularities of each case are a matter for the national courts. However, the Court ensures that the procedure followed has complied with the standards contained in the Charter. In the present case, there is nothing in the file submitted to suggest a breach by the defendant State of its international obligations;
    • He was not represented before the national courts by a counsel of his choice in accordance with Article 7(1)(c) of the Charter. However, it is apparent that the applicant was represented by 3 lawyers before the High Court and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania. That plea is therefore unfounded.
  • Finally, as regards the applicant’s alleged violation of his right to equality and protection before the law, enshrined in Article 3(1) and (2) of the Charter: the Court notes that the Applicant has not demonstrated how he was treated differently from other persons in the same situation as him. Therefore, the plea was rejected.

Judgment of 30-09-2021.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.