CJ on campaign trail to decongest prisons

IN efforts to decongest prisons in the country, the Judiciary is proposing a review of the law to make all offences valid for bail.

Chief Justice (CJ) Prof. Ibrahim Juma said in Dar es Salaam yesterday after admitting 720 new advocates that most of the inmates languishing in remand prisons were those facing capital offences.

"We as the Judiciary are recommending that all offences should be valid for bail. This is the best way of decongesting our prisons. Let us buy a leaf from our neighbors Kenya. This is possible," he said.

Prof. Juma's suggestion comes just a day after President Dr John Magufuli tasked the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and other relevant organs to conduct review of charges facing inmates to establish those who justifiably need to stay in custody.

The Head of the Judiciary explained that the laws on criminal justice have some shortcomings which needed to be addressed, saying that most of the laws involve capital offences which carry stiff sentences.

He further threw the blame on investigators who arrest people linked to various crimes without completing their investigations, adding that their reasons for failure to accomplish their duties are not justified.

"In 2012, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed all investigators not to arrest people without completing investigations. It is sad to note that this directive has not been implemented at all," the CJ said.

Prof. Juma also had a word to other members of the public as they preferred some offenders to be incarcerated instead of letting the courts use their jurisdictions to impose alternative sentences.

On the part of judges and magistrates, the CJ called on them to exercise their powers judiciously, including avoiding being too harsh when it comes to considering bail to accused persons.

He was of the view that provision of lenient bail conditions, including allowing accused persons to use national identity cards instead of cash bail or title deed could assist more to get out of prisons.

While in a tour at Butimba Prison in Mwanza City, President Magufuri ordered fresh probes of all murder related cases, having observed that some of the inmates have been languishing in remand due to prosecution's drawbacks.

The Head of State was concerned that hundreds of suspects were flooding prisons due to prosecution headaches, and that security organs responsible for judicial affairs must craft a new solution.

Human rights groups in the country have on numerous occasions complained that thousands of suspects were not brought to court for justice and authorities did not grant them bail.

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