Tanzania: Government passes immunity bill for its top leaders

Devdiscourse News Desk | Dodoma | Updated: 22-06-2020 15:00 IST | Created: 22-06-2020 15:00 IST
Tanzania: Government passes immunity bill for its top leaders
File photo Image Credit: Twitter (@tanzaniagovern1)

Tanzania has passed a bill that will offer immunity to its top leaders against prosecution for any action undertaken while in office, according to a news report by The East African.

Tanzania's Parliament on June 10 has endorsed amendments to the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act, giving leaders of the three arms of government protection from being sued in their individual capacities.

The leaders cited in the Bill are the president, vice-president, prime minister (representing the Executive), speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly (Legislature); and the chief justice (Judiciary).

Any person aggrieved by their actions will only have the option of suing the State through the Attorney General.

The new clauses are included in the Written Laws Miscellaneous Amendments No 3 of 2020, which were approved under a certificate of urgency before Parliament was dissolved this week to pave the way for the October General Election.

The Bill was rushed through Parliament despite an outcry from civil society over its constitutional compatibility. It now awaits formal assent by President John Magufuli.

In a private write-up, prominent Tanzanian law professor, Issa Shivji, described the new clauses as an attempt to amend the Constitution through the back door by abolishing public interest litigation and conferring sovereign immunity on top public officials.

"This has severe implications for the rights to life, livelihood, and dignity of the large majority of working people in villages and urban areas who are the primary victims of unconstitutional and illegal acts of the organs and officials of the state at different levels," Prof Shivji said.


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