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Robert Richard vs United Republic of Tanzania

On June 08th, 2016, Mr. Robert Richard, Applicant, filed before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) an application instituting proceedings against the United Republic of Tanzania for alleged violations of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its article 7(1)(d).

In the present case, Mr. Richard, a Tanzanian citizen, had been accused and found guilty of sexual assault of a minor of 5 years old and was sentenced to a life in prison on August 22nd, 2004. He appealed the judgment before the High Court of Tanzania in Dar Es Salam on August 15th, 2009. At the time of the filing of the application, the case was still pending.

The Applicant affirms  that Tanzania had violated his right to be judged within a reasonable time. The High Court of Tanzania finally rendered its judgment on September 26th, 2018 and allowed Mr. Richard and released him.

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 2nd, 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.

In its judgment, the African Court noted that that the defendant State stopped participating to the proceedings. It then verified that it could enter a judgment in default according to the article 63 of the Rules of the Court. The Court concluded that the case was admissible and declared itself competent to hear it. It then turned to the merits of the case.

The Applicant affirms that his right to be judged within a reasonable time, enshrined in article 7(1)(d) of the Charter had been violated as it had waited 10 years before knowing the result of his appeal. The Court noted that the level of complexity of the case did not justify the delay and there was nothing to suggest that said delay could be attributable to the Applicant. The Court therefore concluded that Tanzania had indeed violated the article 7(1)(d) of the Charter.

As the applicant was freed, the Court ordered Tanzania to publish this ruling and to pay M. Richard 5 millions of Tanzanian Shillings.

Judgment of 02-12-2021

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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