Commission pokes holes in criminal justice system 

THE Commission formed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to investigate performance of criminal justice institutions in the country on Saturday presented its report to the Head of State, highlighting key findings including major weaknesses in the entire system of criminal justice dispensation.

The institutions probed by the Commission include the Police Force, National Prosecution Services (NPS), Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Tanzania Prisons Service and Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA).

Commission Chairman, retired Chief Justice Mohammed Chande Othman said that the major weaknesses were discovered   in the areas of detecting and preventing crimes, arresting and taking the suspects to police stations.

Other areas with weaknesses include criminal investigation, filing charges, hearing criminal proceedings in court, deciding whether to order the convicts to serve prison terms or to give an alternative punishment and the lives of prisoners who have completed their jail terms and their reintegration to the society.

Mr Chande said that on detecting and preventing crimes, the Commission noted that the country lacks special strategy for detecting and preventing crimes.

“Lack of this strategy has caused law enforcement agencies to focus more on arresting than detecting and preventing crimes,” Mr Chande said.

He said statistics for 2021/22 indicate an increase of crimes by 9.8 per cent including murder, armed robbery and baby dumping.

Judge Othman further said that the Commission also discovered that the arresting organs have been using excessive force, causing torture to the suspects, and existence of numerous institutions with the power to arrest suspects.

“There are many arresting institutions which have been allowed to hold remandees, a situation that causes a person to fail to understand which institution has arrested and detained their relative. Very unfortunately the location of some cells are not known,” he said.

The commission also learnt that suspects are not taken to court on time while the law requires the alleged offender to be taken to court within 24 hours after the arrest.

“We have discovered that suspects are being detained for a long time in police cells without being taken to court, which is contrary to the law,” he said.

The former CJ further detailed that majority of wananchi who were interviewed complained about delay in investigation of cases.

On abuse of power, he said people complained about abuse of power by Regional and District Commissioners especially in issuing an arrest and detention order as per section 7 of the Regional Administration Act Chapter 97.

Justice Chande further said that the Commission also discovered that some remarks by political leaders have been interfering with the entire chain of justice dispensation procedures.

“We have learnt that top political leaders have been issuing orders to security organs to arrest and detain wananachi while they are not entrusted with such powers,” he said.

On bail, he said: “Since independence there are only two offences in the country which have no bail which are treason and murder but to date they have reached 50.”

Expounding about the shortcomings that the Commission found in various institutions, the former CJ said in the Police Force,   citizens blamed it for a number of issues such as framing of cases, the use of excessive force,  loss of properties owned by arrested suspects  at the police stations  and leakage of confidential information.

In Prison Tanzania Prisons Service, he said the Commission discovered several challenges related to efficiency, including poor or lack of health care service, lack of quality food, absence of spiritual services, inappropriate inspections and congestion.

Talking about the National Prosecutions Services (NPS), former CJ Chande said the Commission found that it had no office in 96 districts in the country, leaving prosecution to continue to be carried out by prosecutors from other institutions that are involved in investigations, a practice which hinders the process of civilianisation.

He also said the Commission received complaints from detective and investigation institutions about high charges for testing various samples at the Government Chemist Laboratory Authority (GCLA).

Former CJ said the Commission found that GCLA operates only at zonal level, affecting the performance of the authority in issues related to criminal justice dispensation.

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