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Laws of Plea Bargaining Procedure in force (Tanzania)

Laws of Plea Bargaining Procedure in force (Tanzania)

In order to properly enforce the provisions of plea bargaining in the Act, the Chief Justice of Tanzania released the Criminal Procedure (Plea Bargaining) Rules 2021 (Rules) under section 194H of the Criminal Procedure Act [Cap.20 R.E 2019] (Act) vide GN No.180 of 2021 The Guidelines were released on 5 February 2021. The Rules of the Law lay out the procedure for initiating a plea deal. Before making the rules, the practice was that by writing a letter to the DPP through the prison authority, the accused initiates a plea bargaining request. In existing law, it was only at the end of the deal between the prosecutor and the defense that the Court became involved. However, the Laws mandate the witnesses to a criminal offense to include the Court from the start by reminding it of the intention to seek a plea deal verbally or in writing. The Court has the authority to assess the period within which a plea deal can be reached. The maximum period of time that can be given is 30 days. Unlike under the Statute, where the disclosure of facts depends on the sort of court at which the accused was accused, the prosecutor is obliged under the Law to thoroughly report the evidence gathered during the investigation to the accused in order to allow the accused to make an informed decision. This is a major step in strengthening Tanzania's criminal justice administration. The laws also guarantee plaintiffs the ability to engage in the course of plea bargaining, in particular to secure their right to compensation or restitution. A request to provide compensation in the deal can also be made by the survivor. The laws also cleared the question of many accused and defense lawyers that an offense punishable by a limited criminal sentence should be entered into a plea deal. In Tanzania, strict minimum criminal sentences extend to all economic crimes, sexual offences, drug offences and many other offences. For fear of being sentenced to such extreme minimum mandatory custodial terms, many defendants have been reluctant to enter into a plea deal. The laws allow the victim and the public prosecution, in the final plea deal, to recommend a sentence. While the laws grant the Court the power to enforce, as proposed by the parties, a punishment smaller than the mandatory minimum penalty imposed by the constitution, the Court is not bound by the sentence proposed by the parties. The rules lay out the structure of a plea bargain and the format of a motion to set aside a sentence conditional on a plea agreement. The legislative format of the plea bargain did not occur previously.


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