SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Ruhangisa, John Eudes (1998) Human rights in Tanzania: The role of the judiciary. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (16MB)


This thesis examines the performance of the Tanzanian judiciary in enforcing human rights both during the colonial period and after independence. The study focuses on the period after the enshrinement of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, in 1985. The aim of this work is to appraise both the present attitude of the judiciary and the reaction of the government to court decisions relating to human rights issues. In order to achieve this I conducted a six months field study in Tanzania during which I examined more than a hundred cases (the majority unreported) and interviewed a large number of people involved with the administration of justice. The conclusion we draw from this research is that the government's reluctance to amend its laws to bring them into conformity with the Bill of Rights, underscores the need for judicial activism in Tanzania. It is a disservice to human rights for the majority of Tanzanian judges to adopt a positivist approach which prevents meaningful developments of human rights. Paradoxically, despite this conservatism, the government's attitude towards court decisions remains distrustful. Without a change in the attitude of both the courts and the government towards human rights, the Bill of Rights in the Constitution may not serve any meaningful purpose. Thus this thesis serves to remind both the Tanzanian judiciary, and the executive, of their obligation to protect individual fundamental rights. After four chapters dealing with the administration of justice prior to the enshrinement of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, chapters five and six examine respectively, the relevant courts decisions in criminal and civil matters. Chapter seven considers the government's response to these judicial decisions and chapter eight contains our conclusions and also makes recommendations as to the way forward.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:00

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item