|Overview : |
The United Nations Development Programme in Tanzania is at present implementing the Strengthening Access to Justice and Human Rights Protection in Tanzania. Among other things, the project aims at addressing challenges affecting smooth delivery of criminal justice in Tanzania and strengthening responsive and accountable human rights protection mechanisms. Support to Access to Justice and Rule of Law Project aims to contribute to national priorities as articulated in the United Nation Development Action Plan (UNDAP 2016 – 2021) and Tanzania National Development Plan (MKUKUTA 2016 – 2021). The objectives of the project include:
- Enhancing Criminal Justice sector coordination and data management for a more inclusive, accountable and evidence-based policy and law-making processes;
- Enhancing access to justice for Women and other vulnerable groups and empowering them to demand respect for their rights;
- Strengthening role of national authorities and civil society in the promotion and protection of human rights and women access to justice.
The grant for the provision of legal aid in criminal justice aims at enhancing access to justice to Women and other vulnerable groups and empowering them to demand respect for their rights. The grants shall specifically target the provision of legal aid services within the criminal justice jurisdiction. The potential prospective grantees shall be Legal Aid Providers who demonstrate a track-record in engaging and working with indigents within the criminal justice sector.
The United Republic of Tanzania has made significant strides towards the development of the legal aid sub-sector in enhancing access to justice for the indigent and vulnerable population. The enactment of the Legal Aid Act 2017, as well as the subsequent development and approval of the Regulations, has provided a cohesive legal framework for the coordination and regulation of legal aid in Tanzania. However, the sector continues to be challenged and limited by a combination of factors including constrained resources and inadequate capacity for adequate service provision. The challenges mentioned above are further exacerbated by the vastness of the geography of the country and the equally huge population size which directly impact on the coverage and accessibility of legal aid services primarily at the rural and grassroots population. All these issues pose severe constraints and limitations on the ability of the indigent population to seek and access justice.
The outcome of a recent inquiry into the on-going provision of legal aid services within the subsector reveals an imbalance between service provided in the civil and criminal justice domain. Empirical available evidence suggests that 95% of all legal aid services target civil cases while only 5% target criminal cases. This huge disproportion in the provision of legal aid services has been attributed to several factors. These include bureaucratic requirements and restrictions imposed by law and institutions in the administration of justice; limited Legal Aid Providers with the technical skills to work in the criminal justice sector; more extended time requirements for service provision; the stigma of being seen as supporting and working with criminals etc. While the criminal justice sector remains somehow challenged by overcrowding arising from limited awareness and capacity and delays among others, there are very few Legal Aid Providers active in the criminal justice sector.
The grants are, therefore, intended to contribute to addressing the imbalance in legal aid service and to enhance access to timely and quality justice services and reinforce the realisation of the rights of people navigating the criminal justice system in Tanzania