PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has said that the government of Tanzania will, invariably, carry out fair trial for suspected Somali pirates arrested in the Indian Ocean.
He noted that the country has a dynamic, independent judiciary. Responding to a question from Journalists at a joint Press Conference with visiting Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, President Kikwete said, however, that despite having an independent judiciary, there was a need for the country to improve prison conditions in conformity with International standards.
Before holding the press conference; President Kikwete and the Danish Prime Minister witnessed the signing of two agreements. The agreements include Conditions and Transfer of Suspected Pirates and armed robbers; Seized Tanzanian property and Amendment and reinstatement of the 1973 agreement between the government of Tanzania and the Royal Danish in respect of Danish volunteer services to accommodate new developments.
President Kikwete noted that the agreement was a landmark, given the fact that Denmark leads in the fight against pirates. He also expressed his appreciation that the agreement would also ensure support in Tanzania’s capacity in courts and prisons.
“A United Nations body says that our prisons are not good. That is why among issues that will be addressed is the need to upgrade our prisons to the standards required. “We are also committed to improving our prisons”, President Kikwete noted, joking that they want five star prisons which we do not have.
The two governments move comes as local and International patrol forces struggle to end attacks on ships and other vessels in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates who usually claim ransoms in millions of dollars.
Tanzania is a signatory to the International Marine Convention which obligates her to cooperate with other signatories in protecting the Oceans. Attorney General Frederick Werema has been quoted in previous reports as saying that under the reviewed anti-piracy laws, the country could only prosecute suspected pirates caught on its waters and those operating in the high seas, but not those caught on Somali waters or elsewhere.
President Kikwete also underscored the need to have buildings, manpower and modern equipment in order to successfully try high-level criminals like pirates. On donor dependency, President Jakaya Kikwete noted that since he took over power, the country has managed to reduce dependency from 44 per cent to 22 per cent through improving the Tanzania Revenue Authority and increasing revenue collection.
He noted that the government expects the dependency rate to go even lower in the next national budget. “We have managed to keep reducing donor dependency because our economy is growing steadily.
We’ve cut down on spending and improved revenue collection,” he explained. President Kikwete noted that the two countries have a 50- year long standing cooperation in a number of areas, including Danish volunteers in the area of education, which he was among the beneficiaries.
On her part, the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said that Tanzania is a fast growing economy in Africa today and one of the most stable and peaceful countries in the continent. “Tanzania is the first country with which the Danish government initiated development cooperation.
The initiative has produced good results. We are pleased to be partners with Tanzania over the years. The country is one of the most stable and peaceful nations in Africa,” she explained. She said Denmark will continue to cooperate with Tanzania in addressing issues involving poverty, education, unemployment and women’s rights. She stressed that better education is a pre-requisite in fighting poverty.