PRESIDENT John Magufuli has tasked the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and other relevant organs to conduct a review of charges facing all remand inmates in the country to establish those who justifiably need to stay in custody to face prosecution and those who don’t.
He issued an executive order in Kongwa District, Dodoma Region yesterday, just a day after ordering retrials and fresh probes of all murder related cases in Mwanza. According to President Magufuli, some of them have been languishing in remand due to prosecution drawbacks.
The team which started the task on Wednesday has so far acquitted 300 prisoners, ; 75 from Butimba prison, 100 (Bariadi), 52 (Mugumu), 6 (Tarime), 24 (Bunda) and 43 in custody in Kahama. The team, according to the Head of State will today (Thursday) conduct scrutiny of Kasungamile prison and Geita prisons.
“It’s unfortunate that a prison which is capable of accommodating 900 inmates is accommodating 1925 people,” President Magufuli said yesterday referring to Mwanza-based Butimba prison.
The President was concerned that hundreds of suspects were flooding prisons due to prosecution headaches and that security organs responsible for judicial affairs must craft a new solution.
Human rights groups in the country have complain that thousands of suspects were not brought to court for justice and authorities didn’t grant them bail. In his public meeting in Dodoma’s Kongwa District, President Magufuli remarked: “All the suspects who are not required to be in remand must be released.” Some suspects who otherwise might have served six month sentences in prison had languished in remand for as long as eight years without trial.
According to the Criminal Procedures Act, an arrested person is supposed to be brought before the court without delays. President Magufuli believes the new arrangement will provide relief to hundreds of individuals who had overstayed their criminal trials and are currently lamenting in several remand prisons across the country.
Meanwhile, President Magufuli expressed the government’s intention to restore Kongwa District’s lost glory for being the champion in the liberation movements of African countries. Kongwa, which hosted freedom fighters from countries that include Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola, is a deserted town whose people are left to languish in poverty and undeserving historical status.
Earlier, National Assembly Speaker and Kongwa Member of Parliament (CCM) Job Ndugai described Kongwa as a central town for African freedom and political liberation. According to the MP, the area had not strategically benefited from such historical millage.
“Back in 1967, we hosted Algerian and Egyptian presidents who used Kongwa airstrip ... I think this runway can be used as a reserve airport,” he said. Historically, the district accommodated members of the armed forces, but unfortunately with time Kongwa had no single military base.
Mr Ndugai told the President that the district had surveyed and allocated enough land for the military base. “We also need military places here,” he remarked, triggering cheers from the audience.
President Magufuli announced that he would seek an audience with the Presidents of Algeria and Egypt to seek a better plan for reviving and preserving the historical achievements of Kongwa and its people.