Masoud Rabaju vs United Republic of Tanzania

On February 10th, 2016, Mr. Masoud Rabaju, 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 the Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its article 7.

Mr. Ramadhani had been tried and convicted of rape of a minor by the Tanga Court of First Instance on April 8th, 2010. This sentence was confirmed successively by the High of Tanzania on May 04th, 2012 and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania on July 29th, 2013. He also filed an application to review his case, which again proved unsuccessful. At the time of the application instituting the proceedings, he was serving a sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment.

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. 

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 failures in due process, the applicant submitted that his conviction was based on insufficient evidence to justify a conviction for rape against him, which the respondent State denied. After examining the evidence provided, the Court finds that the national courts did not commit either a manifest error or a denial of justice against the applicant. The first plea in law is therefore rejected.
  • As regards to the alleged violation of the adversarial principle, the applicant submitted that the fact that he had not been present when the decision was pronounced deprived him of the right to defend himself. Tanzania replies that the postponement of the delivery of the judicial decision by 24 hours was motivated by the fact that the original date corresponded to a public holiday. The Court notes that, at the stage of reading of the judgment, the applicant’s role is limited to requesting a mitigation of the sentence before hearing the sentence. His right to have his case heard was therefore not violated.
  • As regards to 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, concludes that in the circumstances of the present case the State should have, of its own motion and free of charge, offered legal aid to the applicant. Having failed to do so, Tanzania did indeed violate Article 7(1) of the Charter.

The Court rejected the applicant’s request for release and awarded the applicant 300,000 Tanzanian Shillings 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.

Judgment of 25-06-2021.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.