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Delay in releasing court records violation of rights -African Court

High Court

The African Court of Peoples’ and Human Rights in Arusha, Tanzania has ruled that failure to provide certified true copies of proceedings of judgment within a reasonable time is a violation of rights of an applicant.

The pronouncement, according to a statement by the registrar of the court, Robert Eno, was made by a panel of the African Court in an application by Benedicto Daniel Mallyav, a Tanzanian, who was arbitrarily jailed for 15 years after he was on May 16, 2000 convicted of alleged rape.

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The panel of justices of the court in the judgment ruled that “the court unanimously found that the respondent state violated the applicant’s right to appeal under Article 7(1)(a) and (b) of the Charter by failing to provide the applicant with certified true copies of the record of proceedings and judgment within a reasonable time.”

The panel also unanimously found that the respondent state (Tanzania) violated Mallyav’s right to liberty guaranteed by Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights by failing to place at his disposal procedural guarantees which would have made it possible to avoid his continued arbitrary imprisonment in view of the fact that he was acquitted on appeal.

Mallyav had prayed the court to order reparations after a Tanzanian high court later found that the evidence relied on for his conviction was flawed, while the government prayed the court to declare that it has acted in good faith by releasing the applicant and that this is sufficient reparation.

“The court noted that the applicant had not made detailed submissions on reparations, because of the seriousness of the violations established, and declared that it will rule on reparations and costs at a later stage,” the statement read.

“The applicant alleged that on 19th May 2000, he filed a Notice of Appeal to the High Court of Tanzania at Moshi challenging his conviction and sentence. He further alleged that since filing the Notice of Appeal, he was not provided with certified true copies of the record of proceedings and judgment to enable him file his appeal at the high court despite several letters he sent to the District Registrar of the High Court of Tanzania at Moshi,” the statement read.

Other cases decided recently by the court included: Godfrey Anthony and Ifunda Kisite v. United Republic of Tanzania; Majid Goa alias Dedastus vs United Republic of Tanzania, Ishukrani Masegenya Mango and others vs United Republic of Tanzania; Badienne Moussa vs Cote d’Ivoire; Kpea Albert Damas vs Cote d’Ivoire, among others.

The court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted on 9 June 1998 and which came into force on 25 January 2004. The court became operational in Arusha, Tanzania in 2006.

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