Mussa Zanzibar vs United Republic of Tanzania

On April 13th, 2016, Mr. Mussa Zanzibar, applicant, filed an application instituting proceedings against the United Republic of Tanzania before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Right (the Court or the ACHPR) for alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its articles 3 and 7.

Mr. Zanzibar had been accused of committing rape. He was prosecuted before the Chato District Court in June 2011. On October 6th, 2011, he was convicted of this crime and sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment. This decision was confirmed successively by the High Court of Tanzania sitting in Bukoba on September 05th, 2012 and the Court of Appeal on March 10th, 2014. At the time of filing the present application, he was incarcerated in Butimba Central Prison in Mwanza. 

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 February 26th, 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 the alleged violation of his right to a fair trial, the applicant claims that his conviction was based on the testimony of a single witness whose credibility has not been verified by the domestic courts. Tanzania, for its part, refutes this argument and asserts that the credibility of the witness in question (i.e. here the victim was reliable) and that the medical examinations provided were in line with the witness. In light of the evidence provided, the Court concludes that it found no manifest error or denial of justice in the present case. The means cannot prosper.

The Applicant also claimed that he had not received legal assistance since he had not been represented by counsel before the national courts, which the respondent State had not contested. Applying its settled case-law, the Court interpreted 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 26-02-2021.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.