Kijiji Isiaga vs United Republic of Tanzania
On December 8th, 2015, Mr. Kijiji Isiaga, the applicant, filed an application instituting proceedings 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 3 to 7.
Mr. Isiara had been tried and convicted of assault and aggravated robbery by the Tarime District Court in 2004. This sentence was confirmed successively by the High of Tanzania in Mwanza on August 5th, 2005 and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania on September 19th, 2012. At the time of the application, he was incarcerated in Ukonga Central Prison for 30 years.
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:
- Regarding thealleged defects which vitiated due process, the applicant claims that his conviction is partly based on information which is contradictory on the one hand and which was obtained in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the other, which the respondent State denies. In the light of the material in the file, the Court finds that the assessment of the evidence adduced does not reveal any manifest error and did not result in any denial of justice for the applicant. The plea is therefore rejected.
- Regarding 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, concluded 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.
- Regarding the alleged violation of the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law (Article 3 of the Charter), the applicant submitted that in considering his appeal, the Court of Appeal had failed to take into account all the relevant facts and arguments he had put forward. Tanzania, in its reponse, asserts that the applicant was treated fairly, in accordance with the law, that he had the right to be heard and that he had the opportunity to cross-examine all prosecution witnesses. After examining the documents produced, the Court considered that the applicant had not sufficiently substantiated his argument. It was therefore rejected.
- Regarding the alleged violation of the right to non-discrimination (Article 2 of the Charter), the applicant submits that the fact that the national courts did not properly assess the facts presented before them constituted a violation of the abovementioned right. The respondent State is consistent and asserts that the national judges have correctly applied the law, which the Court has confirmed.
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.
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.