What says ‘African’ more than an African court declaring a person’s right to belong to an African state? The African Court of Human and People’s Rights did just that when it ordered a man’s nationality to be restored after being deprived his Tanzanian nationality, expelled from the country and refused the right to have his case heard by a Tanzanian court.
It all began in 2012 when Mr Anudo, a 33-year-old Tanzanian man, approached a police station with his passport to process his marriage. After looking at his passport, the police confiscated it suspecting the man of having acquired it illegally. His nationality was withdrawn, and he was immediately deported to Kenya where on arrival, he was expelled back to Tanzania. As his Tanzanian passport had been confiscated, he was not allowed back into the country and thus began his stay in the ‘no man’s land’ between Kenya and Tanzania where he was subjected to beatings, detention and at one point was hospitalised after being found comatose.
Denied the opportunity to appeal before a Tanzanian court, he took his case to the African Court of Human and People’s Rights, alleging among other things that the Tanzanian State (the State) had deprived him of his right to Tanzanian nationality, expelled him from the country and denied him the opportunity to bring his case before a court of law.
The court agreed, stating that in light of testimony from Mr Anodu’s parents and people from his village confirming his Tanzanian nationality, the State could simply have conducted a DNA test to disprove Mr Anudo’s claim to have been born to Tanzanian parents. This was not done but instead the State proceeded to deprive Mr Anudo his nationality on the basis that he had obtained his immigration documents fraudulently despite not bringing any fraud charges against him.
Secondly, the court found that Mr Anudo could not be arbitrarily expelled from his country without being given the opportunity to present his case before a competent authority. The court added that the State had failed to ensure that Mr Anudo did not remain stateless before expelling him from the country contrary to article 1 of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
Lastly, the court concluded that by declaring Mr Anudo an ‘illegal immigrant’ and therefore denying him Tanzanian nationality without the possibility of an appeal before a national court, the State had violated his right to have his cause heard by a judge. The State was therefore ordered to take all the necessary steps to restore Mr Anudo’s rights by allowing him to return to Tanzania, ensure his protection and submit a report to the Court within 45 days.