Joseph Mukwano vs United Republic of Tanzania

On April 5th, 2016, Mr. Joseph Mukwano, 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 2, 3 and 7.

Mr. Mukwano had been tried and sentenced to death for the crime of premeditated murder by the Bukoba High Court of Tanzania on July 15th, 2010 which was upheld by the Court of Appeal on March 7th, 2013. On April 30th, 2013, the applicant had lodged an appeal with the same Court for review of his judgment, which was dismissed. 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. Mukwano, 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 March 24th, 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 the alleged violation of his right to a hearing (s. 7(1) of the Charter), the applicant submits that the Court of Appeal did not conduct a thorough examination of the evidence he produced. Indeed, he claims to have been tortured before admitting to murder, an admission that he later denounced but that this statement played an important part in his conviction. The respondent State categorically refutes these allegations. After examining the evidence submitted, the Court concluded that the treatment of the retraction of the admission of guilt was dealt with successively before the High Court and the Court of Appeal. There could therefore be no violation of the right to have his case heard.
  • As regards then  the alleged violation of his right to equality (Article 2 of the Charter), the applicant claims that the national courts have taken “up and running the case for the respondent State”. However, the Court notes that the applicant has not demonstrated how his right to equality was violated. This argument cannot therefore succeed;
  • Finally, as regards the alleged violation of his right to equal protection before the law (Art. 3(2) of the Charter), the Court observes that the Applicant has not provided any specific argument or evidence that he would have been treated differently from other persons in similar conditions and circumstances. The applicant’s application was therefore dismissed.

Judgment of 24-03-2022.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.