The African Law Service

The African Law Service brings diverse commentary on legal developments from across our African continent. 

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Chapter 11: Capacity to Conduct oneself in accordance with an Appreciation of Wrongfulness and Voluntariness


The problem with the requirement of the capacity to conduct oneself in accordance with an appreciation of wrongfulness is to know what this is and what it is not. In particular, how our law does or may distinguish it from the requirement of voluntariness is exceedingly unclear.

15 y.o. jailed for life. Now African Court orders reparations for 'lost youth'

Two cases involving convictions and heavy sentences for rape have been heard by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Both cases originate in Tanzania and both show that legal rights of the accused were not observed by the state. In one, the accused was not given free legal representation though he faced a mandatory 30 years behind bars. In the other, an appeal was filed three days after sentence, but it took almost 16 years before the authorities provided the records needed for the appeal.

Read the Mallya judgment

Read the Goa judgment


The case of Benedicto Mallya tells a story that will distress anyone with a human rights conscience.

Even if Mallya had not ultimately been exonerated, his case would still be a poor reflection on the legal system of his home country, Tanzania.

At the time of sentence he was just 15. Nothing in the judgment of the African Court indicates that he was treated any differently from an adult accused by the Tanzanian justice system.