Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman on Wednesday said that the Judiciary is supporting the anti-poaching campaign, dubbed Operation Tokomeza and would give special attention to all cases filed against persons allegedly linked with crimes committed during its execution.
"The judiciary, being a key stakeholder in the fight against crime, in particular poaching, supports the operation, but through strict observance of justice. We have decided to give special priority to all cases that were filed to ensure they are disposed of timely," the CJ said.
He was speaking with journalists at the judiciary's headquarters in Dar es Salaam ahead of celebrations to mark Law Day next Monday. He said at this year's Law Day, which is annually marked on February 3, President Jakaya Kikwete would be the guest of honour.
The CJ said the celebrations with a theme, "Delivery of justice timely and the need to engage stakeholders," would be marked for the first time at the national level at the earmarked judiciary's head office on Chimara Street, plots number 43 and 44, near Southern Sun Hotel in the city.
Elaborating on Operation Tokomeza cases, the chief justice said at present 516 cases had been filed since the operation started on October 4, 198 of which had been disposed of.
The cases, he said, were filed under various provisions, including the Economic and Organized Crime Control Act, Wildlife and Conservation Act, National Parks Act, Arms and Ammunitions Act, Forestry Act, Penal Code and Inquest Act.
"More than six resident magistrates courts and 19 district courts in Arusha, Bukoba, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Iringa, Mbeya, Moshi, Mtwara, Mwanza, Songea, Sumbawanga, Tabora and Tanga have been tasked to preside over the cases. About 40 magistrates are involved in the process," he said.
The operation was launched with the aim of controlling poaching and illegal ivory trade in various parts of the country and evacuating cattle from grazing in conservation areas.
However, the operation had to be suspended soon after its launch following public outcry, including castigation by members of Parliament, against alleged wanton human rights violations.
Owing to the MPs' concern, the government suspended the operation and promised to take action against any official who contravened the operational conduct during the exercise. Some ministers were sacked after a parliamentary probe committee report unveiled horrific human rights violations, including killings and rape.