The High Court of Tanzania has overturned the decision of the Advocate Ethics Committee which banned Former TLS President Fatma Karume from practicing on Mainland Tanzania, and ordered that the decision based be referred to the Ethics committee.
This now gives the opportunity to defend herself after she was on September 24 permanently removed her from the roll of advocates.
On September 20, 2020, the Advocates Ethics Committee suspended lawyer Fatma Karume from practising in Mainland over the remarks she made in her submission in a case challenging the appointment of Prof Adelardus Kilangi as Attorney General (AG) of Tanzania.
The committee then, claimed to have found Ms Karume guilty of gross misconduct and ordered that her name be struck from the list of lawyers in Tanganyika.
Fatma Karume was the lawyer in a case filed by Mr Ado Shaibu, then ACT-Wazalendo’s ideology, publicity and public communications secretary and the respondent was the late President John Magufuli.
A local court in Tanzania on Tuesday set free a prominent human rights lawyer and another person charged with “economic crimes,” including money laundering and organized crimes.
Tito Magoti, a 27-year-old lawyer and outspoken government critic, and Theodory Giyan, an IT specialist at a private firm, were arrested on Dec. 20, 2019.
Both were charged with “leading organized crime, possession of a computer program designed for the purpose of committing an offence and money laundering,” and had since been detained without trial.
The duo paid a fine of 17.3 million Tanzanian shillings (approximately $7,500) as part of a plea bargain deal after they pleaded guilty to one count of leading organized crime with intent to earn illegal income.
Human rights defenders have criticized the verdict, saying the accused were “forced to buy their freedom.”
“After more than 1 year of detention without trial, Tito Magoti and Theo have been forced to buy their freedom by pleading guilty and paying a fine,” Fatma Karume, a human rights lawyer, wrote on Twitter.
The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international had repeatedly been urging the government of Tanzania to unconditionally release the duo, terming the charges against them “spurious.”
We’re gravely concerned about attacks on lawyers and the independence of the legal profession in Tanzania, which takes the form of disbarments, arrest and detention, and legislative proposals.
Lawyer Fatma Karume
Fatma Karume was recently disbarred, following the Advocates’ Disciplinary Committee decision of 23 September 2020 for statements made in written submissions as well as comments she made on Twitter.
On 20 September 2019, Ms Karume had been suspended as a lawyer by the Tanzanian High Court, which referred the case of her alleged professional misconduct to the committee.
We’re concerned that the High Court suspended Ms Karume from legal practice, even though that court itself recognised that the matter had to be dealt with by a “proper and unfettered forum” and that she had a right to be heard.
Lawyers Jebra Kambole and Edson Kilatu
On 10 March 2020, Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court found nine opposition party leaders guilty of criminal offences, including unlawful assembly, rioting and sedition, and sentenced them to payment of a total of 350 million Tanzanian schillings or a five-month prison term.
Security agencies in Uganda have arrested a prominent human rights lawyer over alleged money laundering.
Nicholas Opiyo, known for representing LGBTQ+ people, was arrested in a restaurant in the capital, Kampala, on Tuesday by plainclothes security and financial intelligence officers.
Opiyo, executive director of rights organisation Chapter Four Uganda, was seized along with three other lawyers – Herbert Dakasi, Anthony Odur and Esomu Obure – and Hamid Tenywa, human rights officer of Bobi Wine’s opposition party, National Unity Platform (NUP).
Ugandan police tweeted that Opiyo had been arrested on allegations of money laundering and “related malicious acts”.
“The investigations are progressing well and any new developments will be communicated in due course. He remains in our custody at the special investigations division,” the tweet said.
Opiyo’s arrest comes barely a week after he represented two NGOs – Uganda National NGO Forum and the Uganda Women’s Network – whose accounts were frozen by security forces over terrorism allegations.
Opiyo, 2015 recipient of the Alison Des Forges award for extraordinary activism, has worked tirelessly since 2005 to defend civil liberties in Uganda, often for free and on behalf of society’s most vulnerable and marginalised.
He has faced verbal attacks and even death threats for defending LGBTQ+ rights in Uganda.
On December 20, 2019, police lured Magoti to a meeting through phone text messages from Giyani, who had been previously arrested. The police then handcuffed and blindfolded Magoti, and then drove him away. He was held at several different police stations for five days before being charged with “economic crimes,” including money laundering and leading organized crime. The Legal and Human Rights Centre, where Magoti worked, said the police questioned Magoti about his online activism and his involvement with other rights activists and opposition members, and believe this was the reason he was arrested.
Magoti, a 27-year- old lawyer, and Giyani have since been held in Segerea Prison in Dar es Salaam pending trial. Under Tanzanian law, money laundering is non-bailable, meaning there is no possibility of release before they are tried. Their trial has been postponed 26 times, with the state yet to present any evidence against them. The prosecution says investigations have not been completed.
In August, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a decision that Magoti’s pre-trial detention was arbitrary and in violation of his rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Working Group called on the Tanzanian government to immediately release and compensate him.
Magoti is not the first critic of the government to face reprisals.
In September 2020, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) issued a decision in the case of detained Tanzanian human rights lawyer, Tito Magoti. The UNWGAD held that the fair trial violations in Mr. Magoti’s case were of such gravity to give his pre-trial detention an arbitrary character. The UNWGAD further held that Tanzania is in violation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The UNWGAD decision calls for the immediate release of Mr. Magoti and that he should be compensated. The ABA Justice Defenders Program provided pro bono technical legal assistance to the Legal Human Rights Center (LHRC) to submit the petition on behalf of Magoti who at the time of his arrest, worked as a Program Officer for Mass Education at LHRC.
The ABA is deeply concerned with the decision of the Advocates Disciplinary Committee to permanently disbar Ms. Fatma Karume from practicing law in Tanzania and urges the Committee to immediately reconsider its decision.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is deeply concerned with the decision of the Advocates Disciplinary Committee in Tanzania, delivered on September 23, 2020, to permanently disbar Ms. Fatma Karume from practicing law in Tanzania. The decision follows Ms. Karume’s suspension by the High Court in September 2019, based on allegations of unprofessionalism and misconduct arising from language she used in a constitutional case challenging President Magufuli’s appointment of Professor Adelardus Kilangi as the Attorney General of Tanzania. Reviewing the decision of the Advocates Disciplinary Committee, the ABA considers Ms. Karume’s disbarment to be a disproportionate penalty under international law norms. Only in the most serious of cases of misconduct must a lawyer be disbarred.
The United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers 1 are clear that lawyers must be able to perform their duties without intimidation or harassment and should not suffer retaliation for action taken in accordance with their professional duties (Art. 16). The U.N Basic Principles (Art. 23) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Art. 19), which Tanzania ratified in 1976, 2 further affirm that lawyers, like other citizens, have the right to freedom of expression. The U.N Basic Principles specifically note that lawyers have “the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights” (Art. 23).
Hope For Humanity Africa and the Pan African Lawyers Union have sued the governments of South Sudan and Kenya over the abduction and possible subsequent murder of human rights lawyer Dong Samuel and activist Aggrey Idri.
The case is before the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in Tanzania.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday, South Sudanese lawyer, Wani Santino Jada said the complainants want explanations on circumstances that led to the disappearance and killing of both men.
Last month, Wani said, South Sudan and Kenya received official invitations from the EACJ, in which Attorney Generals of both nations were summoned to appear before the Tanzania-based court.
He added that Juba confirmed receipt of the invitation on July 18, while Nairobi confirmed receipt of the same letter on July 22.
Wan said several lawyers in the region are demanding that Juba and Nairobi be held liable for the killing of both men.
He revealed that the court had given the Attorney-Generals of the two countries 45 days to appear before the tribunal in Tanzania.
Wani stressed that the deportation of Dong and Idri from Kenya was a blatant violation of East African laws because there were no bilateral agreements between Juba and Nairobi to deport the two activists.
In May, a report submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), by a panel of experts tasked to probe the conflict situation in South Sudan, revealed that both Dong and Idri were kidnapped by the Internal Security Bureau of South Sudan in Nairobi.
It said the two men were then deported to Juba and executed three days later.
Dong, a renowned South Sudanese human rights lawyer and activist, and Aggrey Idri Ezbon, a member of the opposition SPLM-IO, disappeared from the Kenyan capital on 23 and 24 January 2017.
Questions lingered yesterday after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Biswalo Mganga disclosed that his office was holding an Arusha-based lawyer whose whereabouts had triggered a social media storm last week.
"I have heard the DPP saying that he is detained for various offenses, but I have not been able to see him. I am a house wife with four children. Please grant me the right to see my husband." Advocate Maneno Mbunda's wife, Mwanaisha Omari pic.twitter.com/P4JK9BmmKW
— WateteziTv_International (@WateteziTv_Int) May 5, 2019
Advocate Maneno Pius Mbunda's young sister, Upendo Mbunda, crying for the authorities' help in finding her missing brother pic.twitter.com/ZrBltQNsBw
— WateteziTv_International (@WateteziTv_Int) May 4, 2019
— WateteziTv_International (@WateteziTv_Int) May 3, 2019
Mkurugenzi wa Mashtaka (DPP), Biswalo Mganga amesema Wakili Maneno Mbunda aliyeripotiwa kutoweka Arusha anashikiliwa kwa mahojiano kwa uhujumu uchumi pamoja na watuhumiwa wengine tisa. Washtakiwa hao wanatuhumiwa kutamka bei ya chini ya meno ya tembo na … pic.twitter.com/31qBcZa02S
Mkurugenzi wa Mashtaka nchini DPP, Biswalo Mganga amesema wakili Maneno Mbunda anayedaiwa kutoweka Aprili 28 huko jijini Arusha, anashikiliwa na Jeshi la Polisi kwa mahojiano. (Mwananchi) 1/2. #KwanzaHabaripic.twitter.com/lCqWrG3day