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Advocates Committee Summons Lawyer Madeleka Over Alleged Professional Misconduct

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Dar es Salaam. The Advocates Committee has summoned a famous private attorney, Peter Madeleka, following a complaint by Attorney General Eliezer Feleshi that the former police officer turned defence lawyer engaged in “professional misconduct” in late 2023 when he accused the District Court of Babati of “misuse of judicial systems.”

In a letter dated February 20, 2024, the Advocates Committee, mandated by law to hear and determine allegations of misconduct against any advocate by any person, asked Mr Madeleka to respond to the charge within 21 days or risk a proceeding against him “without any further notice.”

AG Feleshi informed the Advocates Committee that on December 27, 2023, Mr Madeleka “recklessly made disparaging and misleading statements” against a magistrate overseeing a criminal case involving former Deputy Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Pauline Gekul, who was charged with the offence of assaulting her former staff Hashim Ally, causing him actual bodily harm at the District Court of Babati.

Madeleka’s statements, made to journalists outside the court premises, followed a decision by the magistrate to strike the case from the court’s record following a request by the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) that it was no longer interested in the case, leading to the overseeing magistrate to dismiss it.

While Madeleka filed the case, the DPP is the sole authority in Tanzania vested with the power and authority to exercise control over the prosecution of all criminal matters. This means that a criminal prosecution by a private attorney can go on only when the DPP allows it.

READ MORE: Police Summons Lawyer Nshala Over Remarks About Tanzania-DP World Deal

“What happened today is the misuse of laws, misuse of the court [and] the debasement of the court,” Mr Madeleka told journalists. “We say the magistrate went astray, and his decisions do not qualify to be referred to as the court’s decisions.”

AG Feleshi thinks these remarks constitute “professional misconduct” and has sought remedy at the Advocates Committee. Mr Madeleka was not immediately available to share his reaction and whether he was planning to submit a counter-affidavit as he had been directed.

However, in a series of posts on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, Mr Madeleka sounded to dismiss the charge as a “mere intimidation” aimed at stopping him from fighting for the justice of his client, whose revelations led to President Samia Suluhu Hassan to revoke Ms Gekul’s appointment as deputy legal and constitutional affairs minister.

“I want to inform the AG that we cannot tolerate seeing a young man in this country having a bottle inserted in his behind,” Madeleka wrote, referring to his client’s claims. “Pauline Gekul doesn’t own this country. If the problem is my status as an attorney, you can take it from me.”

Madeleka becomes the second private attorney AG Feleshi brought before the Advocates Committee in less than a year. On August 1, 2023, Mr Feleshi sent Boniface Mwabukusi, an attorney, before the same committee, accusing him of “professional misconduct.” 

Mr Mwabukusi, whose fate remains undetermined by the committee, was among the chief critics of the controversial intergovernmental agreement between Tanzania and Dubai, which worried Mr Feleshi, who claimed that some of the criticisms involved “sedition” and aimed at “bringing hatred and contempt against the administration of justice in Tanzania.”

READ MORE: Lawyer Who Opposes Dubai DP Word-Tanzania Port Deal Summoned by the Advocate’s Disciplinary Committee

AG Feleshi’s attempt to discipline Madeleka will most likely worsen the tense relations between the government and private attorneys in Tanzania and their professional associations, notably the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS).

Lawyers are most likely to interpret Mr Feleshi’s decision as just another episode in authorities’ attempts to interfere with private attorneys’ right to work and independence, a phenomenon that members of the legal fraternity in Tanzania have complained to be gaining momentum recently, forcing TLS to seek audience with the Chief Justice and the AG to resolve concerns its members have been raising.

READ MORE: Lawyers in Tanzania Decry State’s Interference With Their Right to Work

On Friday, several people rallied behind Mr Madeleka, urging the government to stop “intimidating” people who have distinguished themselves as advocates for a more just and fairer Tanzania.

Tito Magoti, a private attorney based in Dar es Salaam, told The Chanzo that AG’s actions “threaten the independence of private attorneys” in the country, noting that targetting lawyers has “far-reaching implications” in how private attorneys carry out their duties.

“Because this is not the first time that the government targets private attorneys, we perceive this act as a continuation of authorities’ efforts to intimidate us,” Mr Magoti said in an interview. “We must defend ourselves as lawyers and our independence. We must demand respect for our work.”

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