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Hamis Shaban vs United Republic of Tanzania

On November 2nd, 2015, Mr. Hamis Shaban, the Applicant, filed before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) an application instituting proceedings against the United Republic of Tanzania for alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter in its articles 3 and 7. 

In the present instance, Mr. Shaban had been accused of committing a crime against nature on a 10 year old girl. He was judged and found guilty of this charge by the Nyamagama District Court in Mwanza on April 5th, 2004 and sentenced to 30 years in prison to be served at the Butimba central prison as well as to pay 300.000 Tanzanian Shillings to the victim. He had appealed the judgment successively to the High Court and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania both of which upheld the undertaken judgment. On September 29th, 2014, the applicant seized the Court of appeal of an application for review which was still pending at the time the applicant filed the motion with the African Court.

M. Shaban claims that his right to equality before the courts has been violated and that he been the victim of a denial of justice.

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 December 2th, 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 to the alleged violation of the right to a fair trial enshrined in the article 7(1) of the Charter:

  •  The Applicant alleges irregularities during his trial at the appeal stage and most notably the non-production of certain exculpatory elements: after examination of the evidence presented, the African Court concluded that the manner in which the Court of Appeal conducted its proceedings for the evalutation of the evidence does not reveal any manifest error which led to a denial of justice for the Applicant;
  • The Applicant contends that his application for review was not treated within a reasonable delay: the Court was not able to find any manifest error;
  • The Applicant affirms that he was not afforded legal assistance as he was not represented by a counsel before the national courts, which the defendant State hadnot contested. Applying its settled case-law, the Court construed the provisions of Article 7(1)(c) of the Charter in the light of those of Article 14 3(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Law (ICCPR) and concluded that Tanzania had indeed violated the provisions of Article 7(1)(c) of the Charter.

The Court awarded 300,000 Tanzanian Shillings for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the applicant.

Judgment of 02-12-2021

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.