Q&A – 25 August 2014

Suicide is an offence

Couple of months back I hit rock bottom in my life which led me to try and commit suicide. The matter was reported to the police, got the famous PF3 form and was admitted to the hospital. Luckily the doctors were able to save my life and immediately after my release, the police filed a criminal case against me. At first I thought they wanted money but now even the Court seems to entertain this madness. My life belongs to me, I can choose to take it or have it. They were not there to support me during my darkest hour, how can they niw claim to have a right to judge me for wanting to take my life? Is this legal?
LA, Dsm

The Penal Code of Tanzania clearly provides that, any attempt to commit suicide is an offence. We confirm that the police and the Court are acting within the law by prosecuting you for attempting to commit suicide. Our Constitution provides that, every person has the right to life which obliges the government to ensure that the lives of all Tanzanians are protected against any danger or attack which is likely to harm the life of any citizen. With that in mind, the government is entitled to protect your life whether or not you are willing to protect your own life.

No local insurance capacity

We are a large company in Tanzania and the total risks we wish to insure are greater than the balance sheets of all the local insurance companies combined. We are not comfortable insuring locally here. Is local insurance mandatory? Can we proceed insure directly ourselves? How can we work around this?
KO, Dar

The Insurance Act is clear in that it requires a mandatory placement of insurance risks in Tanzania. Section 133 of this law states that (1) The Minister shall, by regulations, direct that any or all insurances effected by Tanzanian residents or Tanzanian resident companies of any class or classes shall be placed with Tanzanian insurers. (2) Where a class of insurance required to be placed with a Tanzanian insurer is not available to a person seeking insurance, that persons may place that insurance with a non-resident insurer provided that- (a) he obtains the prior written approval of the Commissioner; and (b) he complies with the provisions of section 140. (3) Nothing in this section shall affect the requirements of, and the provisions of any foreign currency laws for the time being in force in Tanzania or control exercised by the Bank of Tanzania.

Furthermore section 140 states that any general insurance business policy effected by a Tanzanian resident or Tanzanian resident company, other than an insurer registered under this Act, with any non-resident insurer shall be effected through the offices of a Tanzanian registered insurance broker.

From the wording above, whilst it is mandatory to insure through local insurance companies, you have the option of getting an exemption from doing so by writing to the Commissioner of Insurance for approval stating reasons on why the risk is not insurable locally here. Lack of local capacity might be a good reason but the local insurance company can still front the risk through the local broker.

Hence you cannot proceed to insure the risk directly yourself. We strongly suggest that you contact your broker and/or the Commissioner of Insurance to ensure that the risk is covered according to local laws, otherwise you may face a challenge when you are lodging a claim.

You must also be notified that without approval of the Commissioner, the amounts you might get from a foreign insurance company as a claim payment, might become taxable in Tanzania because the insurance was placed in breach of the local Insurance Act.

Lastly, one way of working around local insurance is for the holding company to insure its insurable interest in the local asset overseas. That will not be captured under our law because of the interest being outside the country. However this has to be analysed on a case to case basis and your insurance expert can guide you on this.

Judge making racist remarks

As a foreign attorney I was shocked to hear the judge presiding over a matter that I have an interest in making racist and biased remarks. This was infront of atleast 10 other officers in Court. How does one lodge a complaint against the judge? Is this how judges behave here?
ML, Dar

Section 25 of the Judicial Service Act establishes a Judges Ethics Committee which is responsible for conducting investigations and inquiries against Justices of Appeal, the Principal Judge, Judges, Judicial Officers and Magistrates.

The functions of the committee is to receive complaints, serve a judge with the complaint, forward a complaint to the commission, hear the complaint, warn a judge and take any other measure as it may deem necessary in the circumstances.
These racial remarks by the judge are certainly complainable, and you are recommended to forward this to this committee for further action.

Any complaint against a justice of appeal, the principal judge or a judge may be lodged with the commission or the committee by a justice of appeal, the principal judge, a judicial officer, magistrate, law officer, government agency, advocate, person interested in the matter or in any other case, a person who can produce adequate evidence on the complaint. The complaint should also have enough detail for the committee to be able to work and must be signed by the complainant.

We are not sure if you have been to Tanzanian Courts but our judges are known to be very polite and this might be a one off scenario perhaps spurred by events in Court. Nonetheless you are recommended to take the approach above.