EXCUTION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT: Committee hits ground running

A FEW days after the criminal justice reform commission turned in its findings, two subcommittees have been established to start working on recommendations that will improve Tanzanians’ access to justice.

The first subcommittee formed will focus on crime prevention strategies, and a second will consider which laws need to be modified and introduced.

These were made public by one of the commission members, Omari Issa, in Dar es Salaam on Thursday at State House in Dar es Salaam, during a meeting between the commission, the director of presidential communication, and media editors.

“On implementation, the commission was directed last Saturday by President Samia that we should organise ourselves into groups and we have already formed two that are currently working on the recommendations,” he explained.

Mr Issa added that the commission wants these two groups to get to work immediately in order to finish the exercise by September of this year.

He added that, the third group will deal with the implementation system, which will have three pillars. The first is to set priorities, for which they will invite all stakeholders—representatives of various groups—to a meeting where they will set priorities and decide when to begin implementing specific measures and their duration.

“We have already begun constructing that system, and our intention is that in August we will have prepared all that and know who the representatives of the stakeholders are so that in September we can start the work by putting all the representatives in one place to agree on implementation,” Mr Issa stated.

He added: “This is the system we will put in place to be able to get the results that we desire…and I ask each of us to participate accordingly, due to the fact that this is not just the commission or a certain person’s responsibility.”

According to him, the complaints made by citizens and leaders and the recommendations that the commission has made can be divided into three areas: the first is that the laws are not observed; the second is that justice is not done or does not seem to be done; and the third area is that the people complain that they do not get the services they deserve.

During the meeting, editors from the media had questions that the Commission members were responding to.

The Police Force, National Prosecution Services (NPS), Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Tanzania Prisons Services, and Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA) are among the institutions that the commission looked into.

The former Chief Secretary and Vice Chairman of the Commission, Ambassador Ombeni Sefue, responded to additional inquiries by saying that it should be clear that nothing in its recommendations is intended to weaken the ability of government authorities to fight crime.

“Our recommendations were aimed at changing the design and image, as we said those who are not on the frontline have no reason to wear a uniform, especially those who stay in the office providing various services to Wananchi,” he added.

People have questioned how confident the commission is that its recommendations will be carried out, according to Ambassador Sefue “Because of President Samia’s political will, the state of the economy, and advancements in technology, we are optimistic that they will be carried out.”

In response to the Regional and District Commissioners’ abuse of power, Attorney General Dr Eliezer Feleshi stated that the Regional Administration Act, sections 7 and 15, has set conditions for them to arrest and detain people first for the crime committed in front of them, whether it is a misdemeanour or a criminal act.

“In order for the rule of law and the principles of good governance to apply, the person using that authority must write down the information and send it to the court. It is rare for a District or Regional commissioner to take that information to a judge,” he explained.

He added, “And the articles state that if he does not send the information, his order will be revoked and he will be considered in contempt.”

Dr Feleshi added that in order to prevent allegations of power abuse, the team recommended that RCs and DCs follow the law when enforcing arrest orders, taking into consideration the improvement of the rule of law and the concepts of good governance among the many factors it took into account.

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