The Parliamentary Committee on Constitution and Legal Affairs has advised the government to review death penalty laws to allow death row prisoners who have been in prison for a long time to have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
The Committee Chairman, Mr Rashid Shangazi, said here yesterday that the review of the laws should also consider putting time limit for execution of the punishment and allow it to automatically change to life imprisonment if not implemented.
Mr Shangazi said that once his committee recommended for review of the punishment, but the MPs are now proposing for time frame of executing the death penalty and if not implemented it should change to life imprisonment.
“The number of prisoners who are on death row has been increasing, but the punishment has never been executed since the second phase government, why should we continue to have this punishment in place," Shangazi queried. He said delays in executing the punishment has been affecting death row prisoners and also it is against human rights of which Tanzania has signed various conventions to protect them.
“The Committee advise the government to go through the laws governing this punishment, it can recommend for a section that will set time limit of execution and allow it to change automatically to life imprisonment if not implemented within the given time.”
Debating on 2016/2017 budget implementation and budget estimates for 2017/2018 for the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the lawmakers advised that the government should work on various issues among them death penalty and overcrowding in prisons.
The Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, promised to work on all issues raised by the Committee. Statistics show that the number of Tanzanians on death row has reached 465 and the punishment has never been executed in the country since 1994.
Tanzania Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance reports show that only the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere endorsed the punishment. According to Universal Periodic Review report, there are 465 death row prisoners in Tanzania among them 445 males and 20 females.
Human rights activists have been pushing for the abolishment of death penalty because it does not help the convicts to transform and it is against human rights as stipulated in the country’s constitution.