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Sijaona Chacha Machera vs United Republic of Tanzania

On November 08th, 2017, Mr. Sijaona Chacha Machera (the Applicant) filed an application instituting proceedings against the United Republic of Tanzania (the defendant State) 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 1 to 7.

The Applicant had been tried for having committed an unnatural crime against a 12-year-old minor who was a pupil in his class. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Musoma District Court in Mwanza on May 21st, 2008. This decision was confirmed before the High Court sitting in Mwanza on August 5th, 2011 and the Court of Appeal on July 30th, 2013. He also filed an application for review, which was dismissed as unfounded. At the time of the initiation of the proceedings, he was serving his sentence in Butimba Central Prison.

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 September 22nd, 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 of all, the alleged violation of the right to have his case heard (article 7 of the Charter), the applicant argues that:
    • He was sentenced without prior conviction: in so far as an error in law and in fact was allegedly made by the Court of Appeal for failing to recognise that the fact that the court of first instance had rendered a judgment and imposed a sentence before first finding the Applicant guilty, which Tanzania disputes. The Court notes that nothing in the evidence submitted suggests a clerical and/or error or a denial of justice.
    • The testimony without oath of the prosecution witness PW1 contravenes his right to have his case heard. The respondent State refutes this allegation and submits that witness PW1 was a 12-year-old child and that his testimony was taken after the application of the “voir dire” procedure, which is a legally accepted means. After examination, the Court found in favour of Tanzania.
    • The admission of the exhibits and testimonies was unlawfully taken into account during the trial, which the respondent State disputes. After examination of the ACHPR, the Court concluded that nothing that has been done by the national courts in this regard justifies its intervention. The Court therefore considers that the Applicant’s allegation that the Court of Appeal failed to take account of the fact that the receipt of the evidence was unlawful is unfounded.
    • He was unable to produce his witnesses. After examination, the Court found in favour of Tanzania, which denied these facts.
  • As regards the violations of the other rights contained in the Charter (Articles 1 to 6 and Article 9), the Court notes that the Applicant has not concluded on his points and is therefore unable to give a ruling.

Judgment of 22-09-2022.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.