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May 12, 2021 REPORT

A Legal Analysis of Tanzania's Anti-Money Laundering Laws Under Regional and International Human Rights Law

This legal analysis finds that the automatic denial of bail for enumerated crimes under Tanzanian law runs afoul of fundamental rights under regional and international law.

Images Credit: Via WikiMedia Commons (

Images Credit: Via WikiMedia Commons (

All images edited and used under Creative Commons licenses.

The following is a legal analysis by the staff of the American Bar Association (ABA), Center for Human Rights ("Center"),  that examines Tanzania's non-bailable offenses, particularly the crime of money-laundering.  The analysis finds that the automatic denial of bail for enumerated crimes under Tanzanian law runs afoul of fundamental rights under regional and international law. This analysis further finds that the government of former President Magufuli misused its power to charge individuals with non-bailable offenses, especially the crime of "money-laundering," as a tool to target and intimidate human rights defenders and journalists. As discussed below, charges of money laundering have been used to justify lengthy pretrial detention of individuals who had criticized the government, despite an absence of any real evidence. In addition, there are credible reports that authorities also targeted corporate executives, similarly charging them with economic crimes including "money-laundering" in order to "extort" hefty fines which were paid following admissions of guilt, or plea-bargaining agreements entered into under the duress of indefinite pretrial detention.

While Tanzania has a legal obligation to put in place measures to counter money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, such measures must comply with all their obligations under regional and international law. Article 17 of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism specifically provides that "[a]ny person who is taken into custody or regarding whom any other measures are taken or proceedings are carried out in pursuant to this Convention shall be guaranteed fair treatment, including enjoyment of all rights and guarantees in conformity with the law of the State in the territory of which that person is present and applicable provision of international law, including international human rights law."

The change in Tanzania's leadership presents an opportunity for the country to take concrete steps to improve its respect and protection of human rights and due process. President Samia Suluhu Hassan has called on Tanzanians to hold hands and move forward in building a new Tanzania. One such concrete step would be to reform Tanzania's law on non-bailable offenses which has proven to be ripe for abuse and a powerful weapon--particularly against human rights activists. It is notable that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs reportedly announced an ongoing review of the Economic and Organized Crime (Control) Act and several other pieces of legislation, including the Criminal Procedure Act. In light of this, the report thus concludes with recommendations to the government of Tanzania to take steps to reform its laws on non-bailable offenses and encourages regional and international actors to use available interventions to help Tanzania to align its laws to recognized regional and international law and human rights standards.