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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

Tanzania's president and National Assembly members are elected concurrently by direct popular vote for 5-year terms. The president appoints a prime minister who serves as the government's leader in the National Assembly. The president also selects his cabinet from among National Assembly members. Elections for president and all National Assembly seats will be held in October 2000.

The unicameral National Assembly elected in 1995 has 275 members, 232 of whom are from the mainland and Zanzibar. There are 37 appointed seats for women, and each political party receives a proportion of appointed seats commensurate with the number of constituency seats won. Also, five members are elected by the Zanzibar House of Representatives to participate in the National Assembly. At present, the ruling CCM holds about 80% of the seats in the Assembly. Laws passed by the National Assembly are valid for Zanzibar only in specifically designated union matters.

Zanzibar's House of Representatives has jurisdiction over all nonunion matters. There are currently 76 members in the House of Representatives in Zanzibar, including 50 elected by the people, 10 appointed by the president of Zanzibar, 5 exofficio members, 10 women appointed by political parties commensurate with constituency seats won, and an attorney general appointed by the president. Zanzibar's House of Representatives can make laws for Zanzibar without the approval of the union government. The terms of office for Zanzibar's president and House of Representatives also are 5 years. The semiautonomous relationship between Zanzibar and the union is a relatively unique system of government.

For administrative purposes, Tanzania is divided into 25 regions--20 on the mainland, 3 on Zanzibar, and 2 on Pemba. Ninety-nine district councils have been to further increase local authority. Of the 99 councils operating in 86 districts,19 are urban and 80 are rural. The 19 urban units are classified further as city (Dar es Salaam), municipal (Arusha, Dodoma, Tanga), and town councils (the remaining 15 communities).

Source: U.S. Department of State

Courts & Judgments

Tanzania has a five-level judiciary combining the jurisdictions of tribal, Islamic, and British common law. Christians are governed by customary or statutory law in both civil and criminal matters. Muslims may apply either customary law or Islamic law in civil matters. Appeal is from the primary courts through the district courts, resident magistrate courts, to the high courts, and Court of Appeals. Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice, except those for the Court of Appeals and the High Court who are appointed by the president. Advocates defend clients in all courts, except in primary courts. There is no trial by jury.

The law also provides for commercial courts, land tribunals, housing tribunals, and military tribunals. However, military tribunals have not been used in the country since its independence. Military courts do not try civilians, and there are no security courts. Defendants in civil and military courts may appeal decisions to the High Court and Court of Appeal. In refugee camps, Burundian mediation councils called abashingatahe, comprised of male refugee elders, often handle domestic abuse cases of Burundian refugees even though the law does not allow these councils to hear criminal matters.

Zanzibar's court system generally parallels that of the mainland but retains Islamic courts to adjudicate Muslim family cases such as divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Islamic courts only adjudicate cases involving Muslims. Cases concerning Zanzibar constitutional issues are heard only in Zanzibar's courts. All other cases may be appealed to the national Court of Appeal.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Human Rights

The Tanzanian Government's human rights record was poor in 2001; while there were improvements in a few areas, there continued to be serious problems, particularly in Zanzibar. Citizens' right to change their government in Zanzibar was circumscribed severely by abuses of and limitations on civil liberties in 2000; however, the Government engaged in a dialog with the opposition in order to ensure a more open and transparent process for the next elections. On October 10, the Government and the CUF agreed to establish a joint commission to investigate reported abuses committed in January in Zanzibar. Police killed several persons, and members of the police regularly threatened, mistreated, or occasionally beat suspected criminals during and after their apprehension and interrogation. There were reports that police used torture in Zanzibar. Prison conditions throughout the country remained harsh and life threatening. Arbitrary arrest and detention and prolonged detention remained problems. Police harassment of members and supporters of the political opposition declined significantly following the October reconciliation agreement between the Government and the opposition. The inefficient and corrupt judicial system often did not provide expeditious and fair trials. Pervasive corruption continued to have a broad impact on human rights. The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights and limited freedom of speech and of the press, and freedom of assembly and association. The Government declared that four government and party officials were noncitizens and therefore no longer could retain their positions. Police used excessive force to disperse demonstrations in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam in January, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries; more than 2,000 persons were displaced. In the western part of the country, there remained significant resentment and hostility directed against the refugee population; however, there was some improvement in relations due to government and donor outreach efforts with the local population. In previous years, the Government obstructed the formation of domestic human rights groups; however, there were no reports that this occurred during the year. The Government approved a bill to establish a Human Rights Commission; however, the Commission was not established until late in the year, and it did not hear any cases by year's end. The Government created the Tanzania Parliamentarians AIDS Coalition (TAPAC) during the year to address discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS in the country. Violence and discrimination against women and female genital mutilation (FGM) remained serious problems. Women and girls in refugee camps suffered a high level of rape and abuse. Abuse of children and child prostitution were problems. The Government continued to infringe on workers' rights, and child labor persisted. The Government ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor during the year. Mob justice remained severe and widespread.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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