Constitutional Provisions

The 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania stipulates that "Every person has the right to live and to the protection of his life by the society in accordance with the law."Art. 14, 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.It is further provided that "Every person is entitled to respect and protection of his person",Art. 16(1), 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.and that the state will 

lay down legal procedures regarding the circumstances, manner and extent to which the right to privacy, security of his person, his property and residence may be encroached upon without prejudice to the provisions of this Article.Art. 16(2), 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Under Article 20(1), every person has a freedom to freely and peaceably assemble.

The use of force by the police or other law enforcement agencies is not regulated by the Constitution of Tanzania. 

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)     State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1  Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) Not party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints N/A
CAT Optional Protocol 1 N/A
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights State Party
1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court State Party
Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions Yes
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties at Regional Level
Malabo Protocol on Amendments to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights Not party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The Tanzania Police Force (TPF) is a national body under the Ministry of Home Affairs which is led by the Inspector General of Police. The 2002 Police Force and Auxiliary Act determines that a police officer may use arms against 

(a) any person in lawful custody charged with or convicted of an offence when such person is escaping or attempting to escape where such police officer has reasonable ground to believe that he cannot otherwise prevent the escape and has given a warning to such person that he is about to use such arms against him and such warning is unheeded;

(b) any person who–
(i) by force, rescues or attempts to rescue any other person from lawful custody; or
(ii) by force, prevents attempts to prevent the lawful arrest of any other person,

where such police officer has reasonable ground to believe that he or any other person is in danger of grievous bodily harm and that he cannot otherwise effect such arrest or prevent such rescue.Art. 29, 2002 Police Force and Auxiliary Act.

Arms are defined under the Act to "include firearms". The authorisation to use firearms against any suspect irrespective of the threat he or she poses contravenes international law.

Earlier provisions, as set out in 1985 Criminal Procedure Act, also do not comply with international law. According to Article 21 of the 1985 Act:

(1) A police officer or other person shall not, in the course of arresting a person, use more force, or subject the person to greater indignity, than is necessary to make the arrest or to prevent the escape of the making arrest person after he has been arrested.

(2) Without limiting the application of sub-section (1), a police officer shall not, in the course of arresting a person, do an act likely to cause the death of that person, unless the police officer believes on reasonable grounds that the doing of that act is necessary to protect life or to prevent serious injury to some other person.

This provision similarly combines necessity and proportionality although it also does not include the notion of imminence of threat to life or of serious injury that is in international law.

Use of Force in Custodial Settings

The 1967 Prisons Act has detailed provisions governing use of force by prison officers. Article 13 stipulates that:

(1) Any prison officer may use such force against a prisoner as is reasonably necessary in order to make him obey lawful orders which he refuses to obey or in order to maintain discipline in a prison.

(2) Any prison officer may use any weapons, including firearms, which may have been issued to him against a prisoner if such prisoner-

(a) is escaping or attempting to escape and refuses, when called upon, to return; or
(b) is engaged with other persons in breaking out or attempting to break out of any part of a prison and continues to break out or to attempt to break out when called upon to desist; or
(c) is engaged with others in riotous behaviour in a prison and refuses to desist when called upon to do so; or
(d) is endangering the life of, or is likely to inflict grave injury to, the prison officer or to any other prison officer or to any other person and the use of weapons, including firearms, is the only practicable way of controlling the prisoner:

Provided that weapons shall not be used as authorized in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this subsection unless the officer has reasonable cause to believe that he cannot otherwise prevent the escape, breaking out or riotous behavior, as the case may be, and has given a warning to such prisoner that he is about to use such weapons against him and such
warning is unheeded:

And provided further that no prison officer shall, in the presence of his senior officer, use his weapons against a prisoner as authorized under paragraphs (a), (b) or (c) of this subsection except under the orders of such senior officer:

And provided further that the use of a weapon under this section shall be aimed, as far as possible, to disable and not to kill.

These provisions are more permissive than international law allows.

Police Oversight

Oversight of the police is conducted both internally and externally. Internal disciplinary procedures are conducted by way of tribunals and other measures by the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Police and the Inspector-General of Police. Although private citizens are allowed to lay complaints against individual members at police stations, internal oversight mechanisms are generally considered to be ineffective. In terms of external oversight, the Tanzania Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance has the power to inquire into abuses of power. 



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

The Human Rights Committee last offered Concluding Observations on Tanzania in 2009. It  stated that:

In light of reports about cases of ill-treatment of detainees by law enforcement officials, the Committee regrets the lack of sufficient information regarding the independence of the mechanisms in place to investigate and prosecute complaints of torture and ill-treatment in police custody and detention facilities, including prisons.Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on Tanzania, UN doc. CCPR/C/TZA/CO/4, 6 August 2009, para. 18.


No judgment in the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights concerning Tanzania has yet addressed the issue of excessive police use of force. 


R. v. Abdallah Bakari Lugendo (1986)

In this case an auxiliary officer ("militiaman") on patrol shot dead an alleged criminal who had attempted to escape. No warning shot was fired first, nor was there an attempt to incapacitate the suspect in any other way.


1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania

2002 Police Force and Auxiliary Act

1985 Criminal Procedure Act

1967 Prisons Act

2001 Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Tanzania (2009)