Sunday, August 14, 2011

Courts & Judgments

Tanzania has a five-level judiciary combining the jurisdictions of tribal, Islamic, and British common law. Christians are governed by customary or statutory law in both civil and criminal matters. Muslims may apply either customary law or Islamic law in civil matters. Appeal is from the primary courts through the district courts, resident magistrate courts, to the high courts, and Court of Appeals. Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice, except those for the Court of Appeals and the High Court who are appointed by the president. Advocates defend clients in all courts, except in primary courts. There is no trial by jury.

The law also provides for commercial courts, land tribunals, housing tribunals, and military tribunals. However, military tribunals have not been used in the country since its independence. Military courts do not try civilians, and there are no security courts. Defendants in civil and military courts may appeal decisions to the High Court and Court of Appeal. In refugee camps, Burundian mediation councils called abashingatahe, comprised of male refugee elders, often handle domestic abuse cases of Burundian refugees even though the law does not allow these councils to hear criminal matters.

Zanzibar's court system generally parallels that of the mainland but retains Islamic courts to adjudicate Muslim family cases such as divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Islamic courts only adjudicate cases involving Muslims. Cases concerning Zanzibar constitutional issues are heard only in Zanzibar's courts. All other cases may be appealed to the national Court of Appeal.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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