Connect with us

General

Tanzania sets in motion its exit from rights court

Published

on

Loading...

By PATTY MAGUBIRA
More by this Author

Tanzania’s decision to withdraw from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) effectively locks out its citizens and civil society groups from accessing justice, analysts have cautioned.

Article 34(6) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that establishes the AfCHPR requires that before natural persons and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) present cases directly to the African Court, their countries or the countries against which the cases are filed should have declared in writing that they allow such matters to be brought against them.

In Tanzania, many natural persons, especially prisoners, have filed cases against the government.

This past week, the government presented a withdrawal notice to the African Union Commission, heralding its withdrawal from the court.

Earlier, Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs Augustine Mahiga said Article 34(6), which requires that a State has to deposit instruments to the African court declaring that its citizens and NGOs can sue it, was contrary to Tanzania’s Constitution.

“The decision has been reached after the declaration has been implemented contrary to the reservation submitted by United Republic of Tanzania when making its declaration,” reads part of the withdrawal notice.

Advertisement

The declaration was signed by Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi, and seen by The EastAfrican.

Various stakeholders, including Amnesty International and the UN, have called on Dar es Salaam to reconsider its decision, terming it a step backwards in its human rights commitments.

Loading...

If the Tanzania government’s decision to withdraw its signature sails through, the country will deny natural persons and NGOs the opportunity to sue it at the African Court.

The decision will, however, only be effective after 18 months, and will not affect cases that are already filed before the court.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because she is not an authorised spokesperson, an official of the AfCHPR said the court had not yet received the letter that the Tanzanian government had submitted at the African Union Secretariat.
“We’ve heard the reports, just like you,” she said.

Analysts said the move would taint the reputation of the country and encourage some Tanzanians to resort to wayward means of enforcing their rights if political parties are inactive and local courts are not independent.

“Looking at the way officials are appointed, many who believe local courts are not free went to file their cases at the continental outfit,” said Azaveli Lwaitama, the Programme coordinator of Vision East Africa Forum.

Dr Lwaitama said most African governments were uncomfortable with the International Criminal Court.

He said withdrawing from the continental court implied that the government was either afraid of its own citizens or was preparing to replace good governance with impunity.
The chief executive officer of the East Africa Law Society, Hanningtone Amol, said the Tanzania government’s decision did not augur well, given the country hosts the continental court in Arusha.

Denying Tanzanians benefits of accessing the court is denial of opportunity to enjoy expanded human-rights space, he said.

“The court has not done anything unusual that warrants withdrawal by Tanzania,” said Mr Amol. “There is no radical decision that the court has made against Tanzania.”

He said what the court had done was to enforce human rights standards provided for in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

“Tanzania is affected because its officials have repeatedly been found to have violated the Charter,” he said.

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

KRA must ease tax filing to boost revenues

Published

on

Loading...

Nikhil Hira Independent tax consultant and Director Bowmans Coulson Harney (law firm). [Courtesy]

Anyone who has been following Kenya’s budgets over the last few years will recall headlines each year saying that the country has set its largest-ever budget. 
The upcoming 2021/22 fiscal year is no exception, with Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announcing a budget of Sh3.6 trillion – yes, the biggest ever! A little over Sh2 trillion will come from government revenues, with approximately Sh1.8 trillion of this from tax revenues. 
The balance will be borrowed – another common feature of the last few years. 
This year’s budget comes amidst an economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the inherent assumption that the pandemic will come to an end before the start of the next financial year. 
Given surges in infections that are being seen globally, and indeed in Kenya, this assumption may well be the deal-breaker. 
The Ministry of Health has already said that Kenya may see another wave of infections in July, fuelled by the Indian variant. This could result in more lockdowns with the associated impact on the economy and indeed revenue collections. The lack of vaccines is an issue that the government must address as a matter of great urgency if the country is to get through the pandemic without further economic woes. 
While deficits in government budgets are not uncommon, Kenya seems to be annually widening the gap between expenditure and revenues. 
If one applies this model to their household budget, the upshot will almost certainly be bankruptcy. 

Take a quick survey and help us improve our website!
Take a survey

Loading...

What is actually required is curtailing recurring government expenditures, which is something that the government has acknowledged in the past with proposed austerity measures. 
The reality is that Kenya has not succeeded in doing this, and the pressure on revenue collection is exacerbated. 
When you add to the high level of wastage and corruption we are witnessing, the deficit will almost certainly continue to widen. 
The responsibility for tax collection and enforcement lies with the Kenya Revenue Authority better (KRA). 
There is no doubt that the authority has improved significantly in this task since it was set up in 1995. 
The taxman estimates that 4.4 million tax returns were filed by June 30 last year, up from 3.6 million in the previous year.  While this is a significant improvement, when compared to the country’s population, this number of returns seems unusually low. 
The increase in the number of tax returns, is to a large extent, due to the online reporting system, iTax, and a major push by KRA through taxpayer education.
There is no doubt that the online system has made filing tax returns significantly easier and gone are the large queues of people witnessed at Times Tower on deadline day. 
That said, there is still much to be done to make filing returns a seamless and painless exercise. 
System downtime during filing periods is something that all of us will have experienced, although, in typical Kenyan fashion, we inevitably wait until the last day to file our returns as we do with most things! 
The spreadsheet that one uses to file a return is by no means the simplest to use.  One key issue seems to be that taxpayers are not alerted to changes in the model until they try to upload a return. 
The spreadsheet does not allow one to make it more relevant to their sources of income – in essence, it is too rigid and inflexible. KRA should be able to rectify this without too much effort.
Last year was unusual in that different rates of tax were applicable in the first quarter as compared to the rest of the year.  This followed the Covid-19 relief measures that were introduced in April 2020. 
There was much debate about whether the changes were meant to apply for the whole year or whether some form of apportionment was needed. 
In the end, the decision was made for apportionment. One can argue about what the correct treatment should be, but the issue was how long it took for the decision to be made and, indeed, to amend the iTax system. 
The age-old notion has always been that the more complex and difficult it is to file a tax return, the more likely it will be that taxpayers simply won’t file their returns. While the issue with the system has been resolved, there is an inherent administrative issue here that must be addressed. 
KRA has to be significantly more proactive in dealing with changes in rates and law to ensure the least inconvenience to taxpayers. 
The writer, Nikhil Hira, is the Director of Bowmans Kenya.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Bowmans Kenya  

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

BBI ruling: Nakuru MCAs criticise judges

Published

on

Loading...

The leadership of Nakuru County Assembly has faulted the five-judge bench for declaring Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill illegal. Speaking at the assembly Monday, the ward reps said the verdict was contrary to the wishes of the residents.

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

When Kenya and Uganda behaved like real sisters

Published

on

Loading...

There was a time Africa was full of promise and children born during this golden age could be whatever they dared to dream.

Loading...
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Loading...
Advertisement
Loading...

Trending