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Tanzania gained its independence from British colonial rule on 9 December 1961. Since her independence, Tanzania has been an independent territory having a common law legal system similar to the British one, which has been undergoing modifications from time to time to suit local circumstances. In addition, Tanzania is a dualist state, meaning that all international instruments to which Tanzania accedes must necessarily be ratified1 by the parliament to form part of the domestic legal system. Under the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977 (hereinafter, the Constitution), the rule of law concept is clearly reflected in the principle of separation of powers.2 Whereas, the fundamental principles reflected in this concept are the supremacy of parliament, independence of the judiciary and observance of human rights by the executive. These are the bases that form the three pillars of the state, i.e., the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. In practice, however, the executive is de facto more powerful as compared to the rest, which, more often than not, makes the executive override the powers of the legislature and the judiciary. Nevertheless, the judiciary enjoys enormous powers that are guaranteed by the Constitution. And, in practice, the judiciary has been at the forefront of defending the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, as part of guaranteeing the right to access to justice. The right of access to justice is a fundamental right, which is also part and parcel of the rule of law.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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