Legal Digest – October 2016

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TCRA launches website to fight cybercrime

Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) launched a website through which internet users could report cybercrime attempts.

The Tanzania Computer Emergency Response Team (TZ-CERT) website is a new online platform to give room to people with online accounts, such as emails or social media to immediately inform the authority when hackers attempt or have hacked their accounts.

The TCRA said that the TZ-CERT would enable the authority to respond quickly on the fraudulent attempts to internet users.

“Fraudulent acts are now increasing and we have heard a number of cases whereby internet users fall into traps of hoaxers unknowingly by giving them their account details,” the TCRA said.

TCRA said the launch of the website was also a continuation of the campaign aimed at curbing the circulation of pornographic pictures on social media so as to ensure the security online.

Before launching last month, the internet users were reporting such acts through telephone or writing on paper.
This system delayed the response of the authority in helping the victims of cybercrime. He added that the website would go along with a three-month campaign on educating people on how to use the internet properly and safely.

The TCRA said that any people find their accounts hacked because of a tendency of replying to fraudulent messages immediately after receiving.

Notice on total ban of plastic bags issued

The government has issued a notice of intention to impose a total ban on plastic bags by the 1st of January next year in another sign that it is determined to enforce the law enacted in 2013 to that effect.

The Permanent Secretary in the Vice-President’s Office said in a public notice that the government has provided four-month grace period to owners of plastic bags manufacturing factories to take specific steps by investing in an alternative bags and plastic waste recycling facilities.

In April, this year, the Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union Affairs and Environment), Mr January Makamba, told the National Assembly that the government would impose a total ban on plastic bags business by January, next year.

The Government has stressed that starting January 1, next year all activities that involve the importation, production, sale and use of plastic bags and sachets will be banned. Plastic bags and sachets have for years been used for packing water, alcohol and other products.

Explaining on the health and environmental effects that result from uses of plastic bags and sachets, the notice reads that the inability of plastic bags to decompose affects soil quality, litters various parts of the country and contributes to the blockage of sewerage and drainage infrastructure.

Other effects include death of animals after consuming plastic material, endangering human health when used for packaging food in particular hot food and when used as fuel to light charcoal. Plastic bags also cause air pollution when disposed by burning in open air.

The government also instructed all stakeholders to take serious steps in making sure the production, importation, sale and uses of plastic bags are seized by January 1, next year.

TIN verification evaders face legal action

Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has announced stern measures against traders who will not heed the call to verify their Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) registrations. The TRA started the exercise two months ago for Dar es Salaam based business people in order to establish current information including contacts and locations. Other regions will be covered after wrapping up verification in the country’s commercial city.

The exercise for Dar has been extended to 30 November 2016. The Commissioner of Domestic Revenue, Mr Elijah Mwandumbya, said the TRA, among other measures, will revoke the registration of those who will fail to show up for verification.

Mr Mwandumbya made the statement during the official launch of the exercise, insisting that the campaign also aims at increasing the tax base. “The exercise to review and improve the TIN numbers would be conducted in the whole country… we therefore call upon all traders to show up for verification,” he said.”All traders are supposed to take part in the exercise not considering that he or she has paid or not.”

The exercise started in Ilala, Temeke and Kinondoni municipalities where over 2.8 million traders are based. He expressed the need for traders in the city to come out and verify their TIN registration in order to be granted new ones. The aim is to review the TIN registration in order to gather correct information that will help to improve taxpayers database,” the Commissioner said, stressing that those who will not turn up would be pencilled out.

The TRA Commissioner General, Mr Alphayo Kidata, said the aim of the exercise (verification of the TIN) is to get rid of false and idle traders in the country.

“The exercise also aims at gathering correct database of appropriate taxpayers towards increasing efficiency in terms of management that would also see maximum collection of taxes,” he stressed.

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New law to alow Isles discuss directly with oil, gas investors

Zanzibar will soon start direct talks with investors in the oil and gas sector, thanks to a new law to be passed in the next meeting of the House of Representatives.

This was revealed last month by Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohammed Shein when addressing a rally at Demokrasia grounds in Kwahani Constituency during the tour of Union leader Dr John Magufuli.

Dr Shein thanked former President Jakaya Kikwete for spearheading the making of the two laws on oil and gas.
He noted that once the House completes its work the Bill will be forwarded to him and he will sign it into law.
“This law will allow us to directly negotiate with investors in the area of oil and gas and I’m sure that this will enable our government to get a lot of money,” said Dr Shein.

President Magufuli urged the Isles government to fast track the law so as to enable the country to benefit from its resources. “I will be happy when I see oil being extracted in Zanzibar,” he said noting that what Tanzanians want was to benefit from their natural resources.

Long awaited Information Bill debate continues

In a view of enhancing access to information and promoting transparency and accountability of public authorities and private bodies in possession of information which is of significant public interest, the Access to Information Bill is going to be finally debated in parliament soon.

The Bill is intended for Mainland Tanzania only and will apply to public authorities and private bodies registered under any written law which utilize public funds or are in possession of information which is significant to the public.
The right of access to information can be exercised by way of a written request (orally only if the applicant is illiterate or has disability) addressed to the information holder and the information holder is duty bound to respond to the request for access to information within 30 days.

The information holder is also required to transfer the request within seven days if the information requested is held by another information holder and should notify the applicant of such transfer.

Fees may be charged by the information holders for the applications to access information. In case of refusal of access to information requested, the refusal must be in writing accompanied by reasons for such refusal.
The Bill provides that the right of access to information is restricted to persons who are citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Although this may be criticised, overall the Bill is a positive step towards transparency and efficiency. Not all information can be requested and the Bill sets the category of exempt information whereas the holder of information will be exonerated from the duty to provide information if she/he is of the opinion that the information may undermine national security, impede due process of law, endanger safety, undermine lawful investigation, infringe commercial interests, facilitate commission of an offence, and the like.

The Bill also imposes a duty to information holders to appoint information officers, and a duty to publish within 60 days from the commencement of the Act information relating to structure, functions, statutory officers and advisory committees, and a general description of categories of information held by that particular information holder.
The applicant who has been given access to information has a duty not to distort such information and contravention of this duty amounts to an offence.

The Bill requires information holders to maintain and keep record of information for a period of not less than thirty years from the date on which such information was recorded.

Any person aggrieved by the decision of the information holder may apply to the Head of the Institution for review and the decision of the Head of the Institution is appealable to the Minister responsible for legal affairs whose decision is final.

To read the draft Bill, click here.

Marriage Act at advanced stage – Mwakyembe

A government review of the outlived Marriage Act 1971 seeking to empower women and curb child marriage is now at advanced stage, according to Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs Dr Harrison Mwakyembe.
The Minister said the government had opted for guidance on the matter from the Court of Appeal instead of tabling the bill of amendments in the National Assembly.

“The exercise which has been initiated with the White Paper to seek public opinion will be complete soon,” Mr Mwakyembe said. Even though the government admitted the heavily criticised law had some loopholes which delayed justice especially to a girl child and women the Minister stated that “we have appealed to the Court of Appeal to allow thorough deliberation of the law.’

The minister’s remark followed a question in the previous parliament session from a MP who demanded to know why the government had appealed Court to the Court of Appeal regarding a case filed to press the government amend the law. In response, Dr Mwakyembe said process to amend the law was in progress in the ministry.

He said the ministry had therefore resolved the matter be discussed for a clear understanding However, the Minister said Tanzania has made some positive strides in empowering women, including enacting and amending her laws to promote gender equality.

He said earlier a divorced woman walked away with nothing. But the new laws embed requirements for matrimonial property distribution.

“Women now own property… for the record, a huge number of people in prison today are serving long jail terms for abuse and gender based violence,” the Minister said.

The amendment to the Law of Marriage Act has been discussed for over a decade now and it is to be seen if the government can this time amend it for the betterment of women.

Corruption Court starts its operations

The Economic, Corruption and Organised Crime High Court’s Division has started to operate following the decision by President John Magufuli to assent the bill passed by Parliament to establish such a special Court. Chief Justice (CJ) Mohamed Othman Chande said that the president endorsed the bill to become law since July, this year and the same has already been published in the government gazette.

He pointed out that the rules governing the operation of the Court have been prepared. These rules are ready and will be published next week to guide how the Court will operate,” the head of the judiciary told a press conference.
Such rules, according to the CJ, indicate amongst others how witnesses that would be called to testify during the trial would be protected and provide the procedure on how the cases to be determined by the Court should be filed.

He pointed out further that cases that would be filed before the Court dealing with economic crime and corruption in the country would be determined without any delay and that they were committed that the mission for establishing the Court is achieved.

The establishment of the Court comes after a heated debate, with most people alleging it would help address graft problems in the country and speed up dispensation of justice.

Currently, there are three special Courts established as divisions of the High Court, specifically handling labour, commercial and land cases. But there are critics who say that such Courts have not been able to reduce the disputes that are pending in the country on the areas for which they were created.

Meanwhile, the CJ pointed out that the president has allowed the judiciary to proceed with the process of recruitment of judges, considering available shortage and pilling up of old cases that were still pending before all divisions of the High Courts.

He gave an example at the High Court’s Land Division where there were only seven judges who are each required to determine a total of 442 cases annually. “Under such circumstances, there is a need to recruit more judges.”

“Already, the president has given us the green light to proceed with the process and about 145 people have already applied for the post of Judges that was announced by the Judicial Service Commission,” said the CJ.

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Iraq bans alcoholic beverages

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South Africa announces intent to withdraw from ICC

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Tesco workers take company to court over alleged discrimination

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UN rights expert calls for next secretary-general to eliminate tax havens

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