Author: Daniel Marari
LLM, International Human Rights Law, Lund University, Sweden
Although the Tanzanian Constitution (1977) guarantees the right to equality and prohibits discrimination based on gender and sex, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people still face deeply rooted hostility, prejudice and widespread discrimination in the Tanzanian society. Threats of criminal penalty, social exclusion, harassment and violence make it particularly unsafe for one to come out as an LGBT person.
At present, certain homosexual acts between consenting adult males are criminalized under the Penal Code (Chapter 16 of the laws). Under section 154 of the Penal Code, committing or attempting to commit “unnatural offences” are crimes punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and twenty years’ imprisonment, respectively. “Unnatural offence” is defined as (1) sexual intercourse with any person “against the order of nature” as well as (2) consensual sexual intercourse between a man and man or woman “against the order of nature”. The words “against the order of nature” are not statutorily defined. Also, under section 157 of the Penal Code, it is an offence punishable with a maximum of five years imprisonment for any male person, whether in public or private, to commit an act of gross indecency with another male person. By section 3 of the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, “gross indecency” is defined as “any sexual act that is more than ordinary but falls short of actual intercourse and may include masturbation and indecent physical contact or indecent behavior without any physical contact”. Consent is no defense to any of these offences and no distinction regarding age is made in the text of the law. As the consequence of the existence of these laws criminalizing private consensual homosexual acts, LGBT people in Tanzania live in psychological stress and unceasing fear of prosecution and imprisonment.
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Political killings and related violence have found expression in public discourses and have shaped the political-legal landscape in Cameroon since the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1990. The post-1990 constitutional state that Cameroon has become recognizes the universality of human rights; especially the right to life and security of the person. While these progressive laws further distinguish Cameroon as a state with outstanding legal commitments towards the universality of human rights, they have failed to find expression in the implementation process.
Creating such a strong visibility of human rights within the law is not enough. How the law is implemented determines its real worth and effectiveness. Accountability for crimes in a fair and expeditious trial remains the hallmark of an efficient criminal justice system.
This post examines how the state responded to cases of political killings and related crimes in Cameroon from the dimensions of legal and policy frameworks; legal processes; legal innovations; and institutional issues. It focuses on three key actors; the courts, the Legal Department, and the Police, and uses such assessment indicators as prosecution, conviction, and acquittal rates.
The whole world watched with horror the events in Marikana, South Africa and even worse, the manner in which the police defended their actions ultimately including the arrest and charging of some of the striking mine workers.
South Africa is not alone in these twisted perceptions of the morality of state monopoly of violence. Kenya is witnessing the re-awakening of a state-centric oxymoronic violent morality. In the last few weeks, after a High Court decision declared illegal the proscription of the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), this separatist movement, misguidedly revived and threatened to disrupt national school leaving exams among other separatist acts. A police crackdown ensued, culminating on 15 October 2012 with the arrest of 38 persons at the house of the MRC Chairman, Omar Mwamnuadzi. Two people were killed, a gun and 15 rounds of ammunition recovered together with several petrol bombs, including one that was hurled at the officers conducting the raid.