A joint statement from a number of organisations including the International Bar Association (IBA), Lawyers for Lawyers, and the International Association of Young Lawyers is expressing “grave concerns” about the suspension of a Tanzanian lawyer without notice and the failure to ensure an expeditious and fair hearing.
Fatma Karume, a former president of the Tanganyika Law Society and a senior partner at IMMMA Advocates in Dar es Salaam was suspended on 20 September 20, 2019 within the jurisdiction of mainland Tanzania by the nation’s High Court.
The six bar associations and organisations say they are “concerned with the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession, register their concern over the continued suspension” of Ms Karume.
The statement says Ms Karume’s suspension was in response to allegations of misconduct following her written submissions in a constitutional challenge to the President’s appointment of Professor Adelardus Kilangi as the Attorney General.
“We are deeply concerned that, while the High Court acknowledged that the complaint made against Ms Karume was made in the State’s rejoinder submissions and as such she was not afforded an opportunity to respond on record, the court nonetheless proceeded to immediately suspend Ms Karume. Further to this, the suspension was made despite an acknowledgement by the court that it was “unjustified to adjudicate the complainant,” explaining that, in its view, Ms Karume’s response to the complaint should instead be dealt with by a “proper and unfettered forum,”.
“While the court proceeded to refer the matter to the Advocates’ Disciplinary Committee for determination, the decision to immediately suspend Ms Karume, in our view, inadvertently amounted to a penalty.”
The statement says the court’s actions and Ms Karume’s continued suspension infringes on her rights and obligations without affording her the fundamental right to be heard, as recognized under regional and international standards.