‘Samia Legal Aid Campaign’ team visits detained, inmates

By Joseph Mwendapole , The Guardian
Published at 06:00 AM Jul 10 2024
President Samia Suluhu Hassan
Photo: State House
President Samia Suluhu Hassan

IN efforts aimed at improving access to justice for all, the ‘Samia Legal Aid Campaign’ has commenced visits to various prisons across the country to offer legal assistance to remandees and inmates.

The initiative has so far managed to serve more than 7,000 of remandees and inmates.

Ester Msambazi, Acting Director of Legal Aid Services in the Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs unveiled this yesterday when speaking at the 48th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF-2024).

Msambazi said that the initiative aims to assist people who may find themselves in remand due to a lack of legal representation or guidance in navigating their legal challenges.

 “We understand that there are some people who are in prison solely because they lacked proper legal guidance. With the right support, they could secure bail or resolve their legal issues through constructive dialogue of both parties,” she remarked.

Regarding inmates, Msambazi highlighted that the campaign not only aids in legal matters but also seeks opportunities for them to contribute positively to society, such as through community service or appealing in higher courts if they are not satisfied with their sentence.

“The provision of legal aid services to those in detention is crucial. We regularly visit police stations and prisons, offering education on criminal justice processes to empower inmates to seek relief from their sentences,” she added.

The campaign also includes educating detainees on their rights and responsibilities during arrest, investigation, and court proceedings. It assists individuals in understanding the processes of obtaining bail and appealing sentences handed down by various courts across the nation.

“In our outreach, we provide personalized advice to remandees and inmates, supported by legal professionals who prepare necessary documentation for their cases. This approach is essential, especially for those who have been in custody for prolonged periods,” Msambazi explained.

The legal team operates in collaboration with officials from the Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs, Police Force Headquarters, Prisons Headquarters, and the Human Rights and Good Governance Commission.

Their joint efforts aim to expedite cases and ensure timely justice for those affected by prolonged legal proceedings.

Furthermore, regional directors of criminal offenses and other justice delivery agencies are involved in discussions with prisoners and inmates to address their specific legal needs.

 She said Mama Samia Legal Aid Campaign has also been providing legal aid to illegal immigrants whose cases have been heard and decisions have been made to return them to their country but they lack a means to leave the country.

“Through the Mama Samia Legal Aid Campaign, we have also extended support to illegal immigrants whose cases have been reviewed, facilitating their return to their home countries when they lack the means to do so,” Msambazi concluded.

The campaign has made significant strides, spanning seven regions thus far, and continues to provide essential legal aid to those in need across Tanzania.