Tanzania submits human rights report; remains reluctant to abolish death penalty

Tanzania's human rights report was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in terms of the Universal Periodic Review process on Monday 3 October 2011.

Minister of Good Governance in the President's Office, Mathias Chikawe led the United Republic of Tanzania’s government delegation presenting the national report on human rights to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Africa News reports that the Minister said the reason for maintaining the death sentence was that the “majority of the people were retentionists” in Tanzania. He pointed out that the last person to be hanged in Tanzania was hanged 16 years ago.

The Minister was asked by Sweden and the United Kingdom when Tanzania would be signing the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. The Minister indicated that the death penalty would be under consideration during the drafting of Tanzania's new constitution, which is currently under way.

Tanzania's UPR report maintains that the “procedure for establishing the guilt of an accused is stringent and thorough enough to ensure due process is duly observed”. A sentence of death must be confirmed by the Court of Appeal, and the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy advises the President on the propriety of carrying out the death sentence. This committee considers the views of relatives of both the victim and the convict, including the convict’s own submission to the committee. The report considered these to be adequate safeguards.

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