Legal and Human Rights Centre has been advocating for the abolition of the death penalty to complement its endeavors to protect and promote the right to live since its establishment. The United Republic of Tanzania has kept hold of the capital punishments in its legal system before and even after independence. The death sentence in Tanzania is maintained for four major offenses which are murder, treason, terrorism and in military punishments. Section 197 of the Penal Code (Chapter 16), requires death penalty to a person convicted of murder. Sections 39, 40 and 41 of the Penal Code also carry the death penalty for treason and misprision of treason. Death Penalty t in Tanzania is also punished by Terrorism Act 2002.
The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977 does not absolutely guarantee right to live as article 14 which states that “every person has the right to live and to the protection of his life by the society in accordance with law”, the same Constitution infringes the right by vesting the President with power to sign the death warrant and commute death sentence into life imprisonment. By embracing death penalty in its books, Tanzania is not only controverting its constitution but also regional and international conventions it has ratified counting, Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966, as well as the African Charter of Human Rights and People's Rights of 1981. All these conventions guarantee respect for human dignity and human rights.
The Legal and Human Rights Centre’s stance against the death sentence has been geared by justifications like:
In a bid to see the government scraps the punishment, LHRC has been championing numbers of strategic measures including creating awareness to the public and stakeholders to uphold the right to life. In 2008, LHRC in collaboration with Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) and SAHRINGON Tanzania Chapter filed a constitutional case to challenge death penalty provisions.
Despite being in a state of the moratorium, with no execution of death sentences for over 20 years, death penalty continues to be imposed in Tanzania. Currently, there are at least 472 (20 female and 452 male) inmates with death sentences in Tanzanian prisons. Through media survey, LHRC was able to document 7 death sentences issued between January and June 2017, let alone 6 death punishments ruled by the High Court in Sumbawanga in the end of September 2017 against 6 relatives from Kalambo District in Rukwa.
LHRC commends President Magufuli’s decision against signing death warrants which are in contradiction of death penalty and upholds right to live. To cement the President’s affirmative stance in our legal framework LHRC calls upon the government and stakeholders to abide by the below suggestions:
LHRC calls upon all Tanzanians to exceptionally promote the basic right to live by avoiding any kind of violence that can lead to loss of life.
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