Q&A – 8 December 2014

Lawyer’s duty to client

If I have committed a crime, say murder and I disclose it to my lawyer, can my lawyer lie for me? Isn’t the job of my lawyer to defend me, whether I am right or wrong? After all what am I paying my lawyer for?
HU, Dar

In criminal law, if you admit to your lawyer that you have committed a crime, your lawyer should guide you to plead guilty. Merely being your lawyer does not mean that he should misguide the court which will lead to a miscarriage of justice.
For example, if you tell your lawyer that you committed a murder, then the lawyer, as an officer of the Court, must ask you to plead guilty. If you refuse, the lawyer under ethical and fairness principles should not take up the case. Furthermore, depending on the jurisdiction the lawyer practices in, he will likely not be allowed to testify against you in the court of law as your admission to him is protected under the attorney client privilege.

The lawyer’s job is to make sure you get a fair trial under the constitution and penal statutes. The lawyer is not supposed to lie or cook up evidence. The lawyer can be creative but within boundaries of the law.

Denying medical treatment due to religion

I am a strong believer that God is a healer and my religion prohibits parents from taking their children for medical treatment in hospitals. We are told to pray if the child gets sick until the child is healed. Due to that, I have not given my children most of the vaccinations. Is there any law against such belief?
RI, Mbeya

The law allows freedom of religion to every person in Tanzania. However, the Child Act of 2009 clearly states that, a person shall not deny a child medical care by reason of religious or other beliefs. Hence by denying your children medical care you are in breach of the law and may face the wrath of the law.

Our research found the following paragraph from Time magazine that is useful for you.

Religious objections to medical treatment have historical roots that can be traced back to the late 1800s in England, when a sect called the Peculiar People ended up on trial for allowing generations of children to die as a result of their decision to reject doctors and medicine. Today, many religious groups routinely reject some or all mainstream health care on theological grounds, including Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Amish and Scientologists. “Fundamentalists tell us their lives are in the hands of God and we as physicians, are not God,” says Dr. Lorry Frankel, a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine and author of Ethical Dilemmas in Pediatrics. “We respect people’s religious beliefs and try to compromise, but we won’t deny treatment that will save lives.” Frankel says he’s taken Jehovah’s Witnesses to court in the past when they’ve refused blood transfusion for their children in life-threatening cases. “The judge invariably rules in our favor and I’ve never had a child denied care,” says Frankel.

Faith healing is not proven. By not providing vaccinations to your child, you are recklessly endangering the life of your child. We recommend that you get your child vaccinated.

Payment in Tanzanian shillings outside Tanzania

I live in the US and entered into a contract of sale of certain items of mine in the US in Tanzanian shillings. The deal was that I would pay the sums in the US in Tanzanian shillings. Someone told me that this is disallowed. Can one leave the country with Tanzanian shillings? Please guide.

We find it hard to understand why you are dealing in Tanzanian shillings whilst in the US for items that are in the US.

Unless we have misunderstood your question, the dealing in Tanzanian shillings outside of Tanzania where the movement will involve transacting in Tanzanian shillings is illegal unless you get permission of the Bank of Tanzania governor.

You will appreciate that dealing in currencies in Tanzania is not entirely free and is governed under the Foreign Exchange Act. We recommend that you contact the Bank of Tanzania for such approvals.

It is also illegal without express permission from the Bank of Tanzania to leave Tanzania with Tanzanian shillings more than the equivalent of fifty United States dollars. Hence at current exchange rates, you cannot go out of the country with more than Tanzanian Shillings 85,000.

Kiswahili vis a vis English laws

There was a law drafted in Kiswahili but translated in English. However when I read the English version, I feel some provisions have not been properly translated. What happens in such an instance?
TI, Dar

The Interpretation of Laws Act has a specific provision that deals with this. Section 84 states the following: (1) The language of the laws of Tanzania shall be English or Kiswahili or both. (2) Where any written law is translated from one language into another and published in both languages, then in the case of conflict or doubt as to the meaning of any word or expression, the version of the language in which the law was enacted shall take precedence. (3) Where any written law is enacted in both languages and there occurs a conflict or doubt as to the meaning of any word or expression, the English version shall take precedence.

Hence if the law was initially drafted in Swahili and then translated in English, then it is the Swahili version that will prevail.

However if the law was drafted in both languages, then the English version will take precedence. Unfortunately you have not told us which law you are referring to and we are unable to guide you any further.