Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Wednesday directed the Tanzania Police Force to sit down with other important criminal justice stakeholders and examine the available possibilities of amending the country’s laws that allow for prolonged remanding of alleged criminals.
Speaking during a working meeting between senior officers from the Police Force and regional police commanders in Dar es Salaam, President Samia said that prolonged remanding of alleged criminals is not only a burden to the government but also amounts to the violation of basic rights and freedoms that all Tanzanians must enjoy.
At least two laws allow for an alleged criminal to be remanded in Tanzania namely the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap. 20 R.E 2019 and the Regional Administration Act of 1997. Lawyers and other activists working in the area of criminal justice reform have been calling for the amendment of the laws, arguing that some of their provisions violate the constitution and other international covenants on human rights.
“People have their fundamental freedoms as human beings,” said Samia while inaugurating the meeting. “I urge that [the Police Force] sit down with other stakeholders and examine the possibility of amending our laws that allow people to be remanded for a very long time.
“In other countries, a person is not arrested until the investigation into the alleged crime is complete. Once arrested, they are remanded for a period of one week or less and soon they are brought to court where they are either convicted or acquitted.
“You cannot find a government carries the burden of providing for thousands of remand prisoners just because the investigations into their alleged crimes are not complete. Please look into these issues so that we can be able to provide the best services to our people.”
President Samia said that a lot of cases are stuck in courts either because of a delayed investigation or simply because there is no evidence with which to convict the accused. She called these cases “trumped-up.”
Addressing the Inspector-General of Police Simon Sirro, the Head of State said: “I suggest that for those cases that you are certain that their investigations are not going to be completed, those people should be released [from prisons].
“But for those cases that you are sure their investigations will be completed, I suggest that the investigations be fast-tracked in accordance with the procedure you have put in place, [of making sure investigations are completed] within six months or a year.”