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Fresh move to decongest prisons

Fresh move to decongest prisons

PRESIDENT John Magufuli has directed state organs dealing with the administration of justice and security to cooperate in speeding up court proceedings in order to reduce the number of remandees in the country’s prisons .

Speaking yesterday at inauguration of the Chato District Court and the laying of the foundation stone of the Fire and Rescue Force building, the president said the Office of the Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Solicitor General, Criminal Investigations Department, the police, prisons and advocates must work together to ensure timely dispensation of justice.

“The police and the Attorney General’s Office must ensure that those in remand are people who deserve to be in custody. It’s a shame to have fewer prisoners than remandees in our prisons,” he remarked.

During celebrations to mark the country’s 58th independence anniversary, President Magufuli pardoned 5,533 prisoners. Currently, the country’s jails house 12,000 prisoners and 17,000 remandees.

Before the amnesty the number stood at 35,803 inmates -- 17,547 prisoners and 18,256 remandees Dr Magufuli praised the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in collaboration with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for quashing 751 cases in prisons visited in three regions.

He said a judge cannot know the number of remandees because he/she mostly relies on those who are brought before court on that day.

Having many remandees, the president noted, is not the fault of the judiciary but a failure for people charged with those responsibilities.

“This country is not for keeping remandees while others are crying that they have not committed any crime. Some are suffering… it is high time you team up to tackle this problem,” Dr Magufuli said.

Before the construction of the Chato District Court, President Magufuli said people were forced to go as far as Biharamulo District in Kagera Region to receive judicial services.

This had resulted into delays in many cases. “Now that you have a court and a prison it means there will be no delays,” he explained.

President Magufuli said despite on-going efforts to build more courts countrywide, there was still a looming shortage of staff, an issue which his government is working on.

In the past four years of the Fifth Phase Government in power, 11 judges of the Court of Appeal and 39 judges of the High Court have been appointed.

“The government has employed 396 magistrates and thus increasing their number from 700 in 2015 to 938 to date. I know they are not enough but we’ll continue to increase their number as much as we can,” he said.

“I know the challenges you have but there are some of the things that are not caused by judges but other entities, such as the delay in investigations or cases not brought to court in time.”

Earlier, Chief Justice Prof Ibrahim Juma said for the 2017-2019 fiscal year two High Court buildings of Kigoma and Musoma regions have been completed.

Similarly, three houses for judges have been built in Mtwara while three Resident Magistrate Court buildings and 13 District Court buildings have been completed.

Plans are also underway for the construction of headquarters of the High Court in Dodoma, Prof Juma said.

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