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Igola Iguna vs United Republic of Tanzania

On June 13th, 2017, Mr. Igona Iguna (the applicant) filed an Application instituting proceedings against the United Republic of Tanzania (the defendant State) before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court or the ACHPR) for alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in Articles 2 and 7.

Mr. Igona Iguna had been accused of having committed a murder on April 22nd, 1993 after breaking into the victim’s home, seriously injuring at the same time the son of the victim who had intervened to try to defend her. The applicant and his co-accused had been tried by the High Court of Tanzania sitting in Tanzania. He was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging on March 27th, 2001. This judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal on June 28th, 2003. At the time of filing this application, the complainant was being held in Uyui Central Prison.

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 1st, 2022, 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 violation of the right to a fair trial (Article 7 of the Charter), the applicant submits that he was convicted on the basis of dubious evidence, in particular the testimony of the victim’s son who survived his injuries. The respondent State did not reply on this point. The Court notes that the domestic courts have grounded their decision on the witness identification guidelines which take into account various factors such as lighting, distance, time… In the light of the foregoing, the Court notes that there was no denial of justice or manifest error at the national level. The first plea is therefore rejected.
  • Finally, with regard to the violation of the right to non-discrimination (Article 2 of the Charter), the applicant submits that the Court of Appeal assessed the evidence adduced in a discriminatory manner. The respondent State did not reply on this point. The Court observes that it is for the Applicant to prove the allegations made in the present case, but has not done so. It concludes that the respondent State has not violated Article 2 of the Charter as alleged in the present case.

It states, however, that the mandatory death penalty violates the right to life as well as other rights enshrined in the Charter and should therefore be repealed from the laws of the defendant State. Furthermore, the Applicant’s case should be retried with regard to his conviction through a procedure that does not allow for the mandatory imposition of the death penalty and maintains the discretion of the judge.

Judgement of 01-12-2022.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.

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