Identification of criminal suspects in Tanzania: shortcomings in the law of evidence on identification parades

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University of Dar es Salaam
As one of the vital criminal investigation tools, Police Identification Parades (PIPs) generate evidence. Evidence obtained from PIPs (i.e. the EPIPs) is part of the crucial Evidence of Visual Identification (EVI) in Criminal Justice. Shortcomings in the law governing PIPs and EPIP (the Law of PIPs) in Tanzania include the following; it is constituted by multiple Written Laws and Case Law the trend that makes it difficult to apply and inaccessible, each of the written laws offers only a tiny guide, some of the written laws cause serious confusion and some are outdated, some are deliberately concealed and lack the requisite legal force. Case Law in Tanzania is also problematic for the limitations in accessing the Law Reports and unreported precedents. It also lacks consistency, uniformity and certainty. These shortcomings cause a negative effect in criminal justice. The objectives of this research were: to re-state and digest the Law of PIPs in Tanzania and to explain the purposes and significance of PIPs and EPIP, to highlight the shortcomings in the Law of PIPs and the effects thereof, to compare the Law of PIPs in Tanzanian and that applying in other jurisdictions and to propose possible redressing measures for the shortcomings. This study was mainly based on library research and interviews by use of questionnaires. The dissertation comprises of five chapters. Chapter one is an Introduction and General Remarks highlighting the background and statement of the problem, objectives of the research, significance of the research, literature review, assumption informing the study (hypothesis) and Research Method. Chapter two provides an Overview of the Law of PIPs while Chapter three examines the shortcomings in the Law of PIPs and their Effects. Chapter four covers a Comparative Perspective of the Law of PIPS and Remedial Measures of the shortcomings thereof, and Chapter five offers the Conclusion and Recommendations. This study concludes that: despite the significance and good purposes of the PIPs and EPIP the Law of PIPs in Tanzania is uncertain, inconsistent, complex, unknown, unfair, discriminatory and outdated, hence inefficient. The study also concludes that the shortcomings contribute to the severe setbacks in the law of EVI generally, hence stern miscarriage of criminal justice. The study offers the following recommendations; the existing written laws should be updated, detailed and revised into a single separate statute which may also govern other police investigatory duties. The proposed statute should adopt the best practices from other jurisdictions with necessary modifications. Important Judicial precautions should be codified into the proposed statute. The purported laws lacking legal force should be pronounced inoperative, but some of its valuable provisions should be adopted into the proposed Act. The law reporting system, the means of accessing unreported precedents and the style of writing them should also be improved. This should involve providing adequate financial and material support to the Judiciary of Tanzania and other relevant institutions.
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Criminal investigation, Identification, Evidence (Law), Tanzania
Utamwa, J.H.K.(2012). Identification of criminal suspects in Tanzania: shortcomings in the law of evidence on identification parades. Master dissertation, university of Dar es Salaam. Available at (