This is a study of the protection of human rights of pre-trial detainees under Zanzibar law and practices. In this study, I wish to consider whether problems and conditions associated with the abuses of human rights of the pre-trial detainees in Zanzibar can be solved and improved.
The law in Zanzibar has made a significant progress in the protection of the right to personal liberty and rights of persons deprived of their liberty through Constitutional reform since 1984. The Zanzibar Constitution of 1984 contains the Bill of Rights which guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons including the pre-trial detainees. However, since the aftermath of the first multiparty election in 1995, there has been continuing problems of abuse of powers by law enforcement officials. For instance, arbitrary deprivation of liberty has become a common practice in Zanzibar, suspects of criminal offences are denied their right to bail, to legal assistance, to communicate with relatives, in some cases pre-trial detainees are subjected to torture and other ill treatments. Thus, there is a gap between what the law provides as rights and the practices of law enforcement officials.
The violations of right to liberty and rights of pre-trial detainees in Zanzibar persist because of various factors including police corruption, lack of awareness of legal rights, disrespect of the law by the law enforcers, political misuse of the law enforcers and absence of an independent and effective system of supervision of police practices. The existence of an independent monitoring system is very important to safeguard rights of pre-trial detainees and also to ensure the law enforcement officials comply with safeguards against unlawful deprivation of liberty and respect for the rights of pre-trial detainees. Lack of external monitoring body makes individual and unscrupulous police officers to feel quite confident to abuse their power with impunity. Therefore, in order to ensure the law enforcement official comply with the law it is important to intensify internal supervision of police conducts, to establish independent monitoring system of police stations and also to make sure that law enforcers who abuse their powers are brought to justice.