Zanzibaris add weight on reforms in criminal justice

SEVERAL members of the public here on Wednesday aired different views for the reform of the country’s criminal justice system, with some calling for a friendly environment for people with disabilities in Courts and in investigation processes.

The forum was organised by the Criminal Justice System Review commission at Muwachealale village, in Unguja West A District and was aired by TBC Television.

“It is sad that many deaf and blind people fail to access justice because of an unconducive environment due to lack of Police officers and court staff capable of communicating with them. This must be fixed,” suggested Mwalimu Suleiman Issa Salum, who is blind. “Dishonest public servants who solicit bribe should be removed, improve investigation to avoid false accusations and malicious prosecution; and more time should be allocated for police practical training rather than theory as this will help reduce corruption among the police officers,” the citizen suggested at the gathering chaired by the TBC Director, Dr Ayoub Rioba.

Other suggestions include that media should avoid ‘convicting suspects’ before Court convicts them; Elders, particularly frail senior citizens should be given priority to be served at hospitals; and petty offences such as stealing farm produce and use of abusive language should be handled/prosecuted by police instead of the current system that all cases are managed by Director of Public Prosecutor (DPP).

Ms Sabra Khamis Ali, a paralegal, argued that ‘petty cases’ to be handled by DPP lead to unnecessary delays, and also suggested improvement of ‘one-stop-centres’ established to serve victims of gender-based violence.

“The current practice of demanding police PF3 from police stations inconveniences victims,” she argued.

Mr Mwalimu Khatib Mohamed said that counselling in prisons is important and that criminal justice lessons should be introduced in schools and universities to prepare future leaders, public servants and workers in the private sector who are honest in the society.

For his side, Mr Amour Rashid Haji said: “Let us honour and praise President Samia Suluhu Hassan for her bold decision to allow reforms in the criminal justice system in the country. This is indeed her legacy. I suggest finding ways that will control interference in cases as some people in high positions have been tampering in cases leading to injustice.”

“In fact corruption starts with our legislators from constituencies. They condemn corruption, but during election time they bribe. I think this room should be blocked to end corruption practices in the community,” suggested Mr Hussein Ali Kombo.

Mr Talib Omar Suleiman was of the views that people convicted to death penalty, if they cannot be killed, should be “deported to work in foreign countries or given out to provide a kidney for transplant or separated from community by taking them to isolated islets.

Just giving a life sentence is giving them relief after deliberate killing.” Dr Yahya Khamis Hamda, Dr Laurean Ndumbaro and Dr Reuben Shesha, all from the Commission facilitated the forum after explaining that the Criminal Justice System in Tanzania has many challenges that in end lead to injustice and unfair decisions, saying they have documented their report and submitted to the government with recommendations.

However, both President Samia and Dr Husein Ali Mwinyi have already expressed their will to improve criminal justice. Your suggestions will further be considered.

“The reform is a process, some can be implemented in a short period while others may take long,” Mr Hamad said while Mr Ndumbaro and Shesha also urged Tanzanians to change, “Changes must start from you.”

The presidential commission on the review of Tanzania’s criminal justice system has recommended 13 major reforms that, if implemented, are expected to improve access to justice in the country. They handed the report to Dr Samia on July 15, this year.

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