Thobias Mango and Shukurani Mango vs United Republic of Tanzania
On February 11th, 2015, Misters Shukurani and Thobias Mango (Applicants), filed an application before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) an application instituting proceedings against the United Republic of Tanzania for alleged violation of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) in its articles 3, 7, 7(2), 19 and 28, the United Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its articles 1,2, 3,5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 and the Constitution of Tanzania.
In the present instance, Misters Mango, Tanzanian citizens, were serving a 30 year sentence in prison after having been found guilty or armed robbery by the District Court of Mwanza on May 7th, 2004. They had been identified by a witness working as a cashier to to the exchange office that was robbed. The Applicants appealed this decision before the High Court and the the Court of Appeal, both of which confirmed the undertaken judgment on October 31st, 2005 and May 12th, 2010.
They subsequently filed two applications for review and then for unconstitutionality of the judgment, without success. At the time, the application was filed with the African Court, they were detained in the central prison.
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.
With regards to the alleged violation of the right to a fair trial enshrined in article 7 of the Charter as well as articles 8 and 10 of the UDHR, the Applicant contend that:
- The identification procedure of the suspects did not meet national or international standards: the Court notes that this issue has been examined by all the national courts which have has to deal with this case. Nothing seems to suggest that national and/or international standards have been violated;
- The State of Tanzania did not forward of delayed in transmitting certain evidence despite the Applicants’ insistence: the Court considered that the unjustified delay in the communication and transmission of the documents to the Applicants affected their rights to prepare their defence, which is a violation of Article 7(1)(c) of the Charter;
- Their right to legal aid was not respected in so far as they were not assisted by a counsel at first instance and on appeal: confirming its settled case-law, the Court held that for failing to provide legal aid to the Applicants, Tanzania had breached its international obligations under Article 7 of the Charter;
- The standard of proof in a criminal trial were not met because the prosecution neither produced the murder weapon nor heard from the owner of the exchange under attack. In its decision, the Court considered that the absence of these elements did not render the sentence inoperative since the cashier victim had appeared throughout the trial, had never never changed her version and her remarks had been corroborated by various persons. In the present case, Tanzania did not violate the Applicants’ rights;
- The replacement of the judge in charge of the case during the proceedings had infringed their right to a fair trial: the Court noted that the case had been heard before 3 different courts and that nothing in the evidence provided suggested that there had been a procedural defect affecting the rights of the defence;
- The written pleadings were not taken into account by the Court of First Instance: the Court notes that the Applicants have not proved this claim, it cannot therefore succeed;
- The judgments were vitiated by the contradiction of certain testimonies, but also by a poor assessment of the evidence: however, the Court affirms that nothing in the file provided to it suggest a procedural defect. The plea is therefore rejected;
With regards to their appeals for review and unconstitutionality were arbitrarily dismissed by the domestic courts, which Tanzania denies. The Court concluded that it did nor provide sufficient evidence to support this point; it therefore rejected that plea.
Finally, as regards Tanzania’s alleged violation of Articles 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 of the UDHR and Articles 2, 3, 5, 19 and 28 of the Charter, the Court reaffirmed its settled case-law that “general assertions that its right has been violated are not sufficient. More concrete is needed”. That plea was therefore rejected.
The Court therefore found that Tanzania had violated Articles 1 and 7(1) of the Charter. On the question of reparations, the Court refused the Applicants’ request for release and reserved the question of reparations.
On November 6th, 2018, the Applicants filed an application with the Court for review of the judgment. In its judgment dated July 4th, 2019, the Court recalled that this appeal was only open in the event of discovery of new elements of which the party was not aware at the time the judgment was rendered, which was not in the case in the present instance. The application was therefore dismissed.
The Court settled the issue of reparation in its judgment of December 2nd, 2021. It awarded 2,5 million Tanzanian Shilling to each of the Applicants for non-pecuniary damage and for some of their family members.
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.