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Corruption Named as the Biggest Barrier to Access to Justice in Zanzibar

It is followed by the duration or length of proceedings/cases in courts of law; low awareness of laws among citizens; and legal representation costs. 

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Dar es Salaam. A significant percentage of Zanzibaris (66 per cent) consider corruption as the leading barrier to access to justice in the semi-autonomous archipelago, the latest human rights report by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) has revealed.

Corruption is followed by the duration or length of proceedings/cases in courts of law (47 per cent); low awareness of laws among citizens (28 per cent); and legal representation costs (21 per cent).

Lengthy legal procedures (cumbersome procedures) and language of the court/law (English) were also mentioned as barriers by 20 per cent and 8 per cent of the respondents respectively, while nearly a quarter of the respondents (14 per cent) mentioned limited access to legal aid as a common barrier and 10 per cent mentioned distance from residence to court.

Only seven per cent of the respondents claimed that they did not know any common barriers to access to justice.

The findings were the results of a survey by the Zanzibar Legal Service Centre (ZLSC) and Zanzibar Fighting Against Youth Challenges Organization (ZAFAYCO) and presented on Monday as part of the launching of the 2021 Human Rights Report by LHRC.

Respondents also mentioned constant adjournment of cases, which has cost implications on expenses incurred to go to court from time to time. According to the report’s authors, this challenge contributes to a miscarriage of justice, leading to “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Respondents also recommended the establishment of special courts to address gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against children (VAC). Others recommended intensified efforts in combating corruption in the justice system, especially the criminal justice system

“The Zanzibar Anti-Corruption and Economic Authority [needs] to work closely with other stakeholders, including NGOs, to intensify pre- prevention and combating of corruption initiatives, as part of a strategy to address corruption in the administration of justice,” the report urged.

Other notable human rights issues in Zanzibar presented by the report include the presence of laws and regulations restricting freedom, the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 and Online Content Regulations of 2020, which apply in both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, which contain provisions that arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression.

There are reports of children being trafficked from Tanzania Mainland to work as domestic workers, shopkeepers and street vendors in Zanzibar.

According to the report, some people with disabilities are being used by some people to beg in the streets.

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