Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday inaugurated the commission she formed to investigate state organs responsible for dispensing criminal justice in Tanzania with the goal to improve the criminal justice system in the East African nation.
The inauguration took place at the Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma during a function attended by members of the commission as well as other senior officials of the government.
Samia announced the formation of the commission on July 20, 2023, against the background of complaints from activists working in the area of criminal justice in Tanzania who slammed the system as unfair and discriminatory.
Speaking at the inauguration on Tuesday, the Head of State said the commission is one of a number of efforts that her administration will take to ensure that people working in the criminal justice organs abide by their ethics.
“I think we will all agree that the criminal justice system in this country is in total chaos,” Samia, who came into power on March 19, 2021, said in her address. “And that is not because we don’t have ethical guidelines in this country but because those guidelines are not being observed.”
Samia, whose 4rs philosophy of building the nation which focuses on reconciliation, resilience, reform and rebuilding has won plaudits within and outside the country, pointed out this behaviour of ignoring ethics has come at a huge expense of the ordinary Tanzanians.
“As a consequence, people without power or money rarely get justice in this country,” Samia said in her inaugural speech. “They have been forced to endure things no one should endure. Money decides who gets justice and who doesn’t.”
Some of the institutions that Samia has tasked the commission to investigate include the Tanzania Police Force, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA), the National Prosecutions Services and the Tanzania Prisons Service.
While Samia thinks all of the institutions have issues needing redress, he urged the commission to pay particular attention to the Police Force, saying that it tops other institutions in terms of complaints from the public.
“If you ask 100 people what they consider to be the most problematic institutions in terms of access to justice, 70 of them will point at the Police Force,” President Samia said during her address.
She also mentioned the National Prosecutions Services where she said “a lot has been going on” there, particularly with regard to money collected under the controversial plea-bargaining arrangement.
“Some of the money collected under the plea-bargaining arrangement has been found while others have not been found,” Samia said.
“If you ask, you’re being told that [a bank] account has been opened in China [to keep the money]. So, the commission will have to go and look into it too,” the Head of State added.
The commission, which will work under the chairmanship of the former Chief Justice Mohammed Chande Othman, has until May 30, 2023, to carry out the work and submit its preliminary report to President Samia.
Other members of the commission include the former Chief Secretary Ambassador Ombeni Sefue who is serving as the commission’s deputy chairperson, the president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) Edward Hosea and the former president of the Zanzibar Law Society (ZLS) Yahya Khamisi Hamad.
Others include a former member of the Police Force Saada Ibrahim Makungu, the chairperson of Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) board chairperson Omary Issa and a senior official from the President’s Office Baraka Leonard.
Others are Attorney General Dr Eliezer Feleshi, the Public Service Management and Good Governance permanent secretary Dr Laurean Ndumbaro, former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Said Mwema and former IGP Ernest Mangu.
Lukelo Francis is The Chanzo Journalist based in Dar es Salaam. He can be found at email@example.com.