Duration: 10-Nov-2012 to 10-Oct-2015 | Place: Tanzania
The project aimed to assist in decongesting 20 remand prisons and 4 retention homes in 5 regions (Kilimanjaro; Moshi Town, Mwanga and Same), (Arusha; Arumeru and Arusha Districts), (Tanga; Lushoto, Handeni, Tanga town, Korogwe and Pangani Districts), (Morogoro; Morogoro Town, Kilombero, Kilosa & Mvomero Districts) and (Dar-es-salaam; Ilala, Kinondoni and Temeke Districts). The project intended to improve performance in the criminal justice system in Tanzania to provide timely justice for all. The project directly targeted 100% of remandees and juveniles in retention homes, 88 paralegals, 50 police officers, 50 prisons officers and 46 magistrates in respective regions. Through establishment and enhancement of the Paralegal units, improving communication between criminal justice agencies, increasing legal literacy to remand prisoners and law enforcers.
Prisoners at Ukonga Prison Acquitted after an Appeal through Paralegals’ support.
Prisoners Ramadhani Salum and Ramadhani Hussein were charged with armed robbery after been arrested by police who opened the case at Ilala District Court/Samora with Registration No. 590/2000. Due to their little understanding on legal issues they were found guilty, finally convicted and jailed for 30 years each. While in prison, they met with paralegals at Ukonga Paralegal Desk, who advised them to appeal against their case and sentence. The two prisoners filed their appeal interest. Paralegals desk followed on copy of their judgment and case proceeding. Luckily, judgment copies were obtained, paralegals prepared reasons for their appeal and sent them to High Court of Dar es Salaam and the appeal was registered with Registration No. 2/2014. After some time, the prisoners received a call for their appeal hearing in different dates. After review of their appeal and court proceeding, High Court Hon. Mgaya J. Was satisfied with reasons of their appeal and acquitted them on 2nd September, 2014.
- In order to strengthen and smoothing the process of legal aid provision the linkage between paralegals with the local government authorities is of paramount importance. The paralegals that were getting good cooperation from the village leaders and other local government authorities performed better than those who received less cooperation during legal aid provision.
- Prisons which are located in towns and cities such as Dar es Salaam and Arusha than in prisons located are more congested compared in rural areas. This indicates that there is a need of having more paralegals in urban areas than in rural areas.
- There is a special need of providing legal education to indigenous in villages and streets. This can help in reducing the number of people who commits crimes and hence it can reduce congestion in remand prisons and retention homes.
- Prison paralegals have proved to be efficient and effective since they operate under a defined system. However, paralegals from outside are equally important since they are readily available to follow up from the outside with regard to bail processes.
- Most people are ignorant of their legal rights once they are in conflict with the law. The legal aid services to remandees are still essential since many of them were not aware of the legal right before meeting the paralegals.
- More legal aid and counselling in police stations will contribute at most in prisons decongestion initiatives.
- Envirocare has managed to reach over 3961 clients who attended legal aid clinics in 20 Prisons and 4 Retention homes. Out of 3961 that received legal aid 1284 bailed out, 510 acquitted, 484 jailed and 1683 are ongoing cases. Also Paralegals were able to provide legal education through meetings to remandees, Prisons officers with their families and villages and community members surrounding Prisons.
- Envirocare in collaboration with project stakeholders were able to produce and disseminate 30 copies of baseline report on the State of Remand Prisons and Retention Homes in Tanzania. The report is very useful to inform stakeholders in rehabilitation activities at local, national and International levels.
- Legal literacy among remandees and children in conflict with the law in project areas has increased. Remandees and children are now able to represent themselves at court since they have knowledge on different laws and court procedures.
- Legal Education to prison officers, families and surrounding communities has facilitated to bring peace and harmony in respective areas. After Envirocare interventions through Legal aid and counselling, legal representation as well as follow up of cases this has brought peace and harmony in Prisons` project. This has brought strong unity and wide knowledge on issues of women rights, matrimonial and property rights and other issues regarding to legal knowledge.
- Envirocare has proved its recognition in Tanzania Prisons Service through implemented project. It is the first NGO to be trusted to work with the Department in advancing, promoting rights of remandees as well as children in conflict with Laws. This is very unique project on provision of legal aid especially to remandees whom in a very long time legal education have not been taken at Prisons. It is through the good cooperation given by Commissioner General for Prison Mr. John C. Minja together with his subordinate that the project was made a success.
- Legal aid is still going on in all Prisons project and retention homes. Despite the fact that the Project has reached an end paralegals are continuing to provide legal aid and counselling according to their timetable. It is very amazing that clients nowadays do not miss their rights due to legal awareness.
- Prison officers have improved their performance in respective areas of project implementation. During monitoring of project activities, it was observed that officers in-charge were sceptical of what information Envirocare needed from remandees. After learning that the project was genuine, they gave their full cooperation and this brought them to improve their performance in providing necessary services to remandees.
- Capacity building of grantees contributed to improve the program. Through various trainings, study tour and workshops prepared and conducted by LSF to its grantees improved techniques and innovative approaches of project implementation.
Despite the fact that cooperation among paralegals and Prison officers have enhanced but some of the In-charge of Prison officers do not allow paralegals (especially prison officers) to visit villagers for awareness rising on legal right.
Remandees in Prisons and Children in conflict with Law at Retention Homes
The legal services facility (LSF) is an independent basket fund registered as a Tanzanian non- Profit Company which strives to increase access to justice for all, in particular women through a legal empowerment approach and is funded by DANIDA. The LSF have been supporting NGO`s including Envirocare for more than three years to support marginalized group including remand prisoners and children in conflict with for legal empowerment. Envirocare appreciate and value the contribution of the Government of Denmark through DANIDA and LSF for their effort in ensuring access to timely justice for all especially remandees in prison and suspects at police station.