AFRICAN COURT DIRECTS TANZANIA TO DROP THE MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY
December 2, 2019:
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights has ordered the government of Tanzania to remove from its statute books the mandatory death sentence imposed on persons convicted of murder, the Daily News reported on 29 November 2019. Composed of ten justices, lead by President Sylvain Oré, the Court also directed Tanzania, as respondent state, to take necessary measures with one year within which to repeal the provision of section 197 of the Penal Code, which provides such capital punishment. "This court orders the respondent state to take necessary measures within one year from the date of notification of this judgment to remove the mandatory nature of imposition of the death sentence as it removes the discretion of the judicial officer," they declared. (Sources: dailynews.co.tz, 29/11/2019)
The justices found that Section 197 of the Penal Code does not provide the convicted person to provide mitigating evidence and the trial court is left with no other option than to impose the death sentence to the convicted person. In their landmark judgment, the justices also ordered the respondent to publish in the websites of the Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs the judgment in question and that such judgment should remain accessible at least for one year from the date of notification of its existence.
The Court in its closing of the four-week sitting of the 55th Ordinary Session further directed the government to provide a report in three months' time on the implementation of the judgment and the status of the implementation. They noted that the mandatory imposition of the death sentence provided for under the law constitutes an arbitration violation of the right to life, thus, the court found the respondent state to have violated the Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.
The justices pointed out that hanging a person is one of such measures that are inherently degrading, as the method of implementation of such sentence is indignity, torture and inhuman.