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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Tanzania

The constitution of Tanzania contains provisions for the protection of the environment. Article 27 “Duty to safeguard public property” reads:

Every person has the duty to protect the natural resources of the United Republic, the property of the state authority, all property collectively owned by the people, and also to respect another person’ property.

All persons shall be required by law to safeguard the property of the state authority and all property collectively owned by the people, to combat all forms of waste and squander, and to manage the national economy assiduously with the attitude of people who are masters of the destiny of their nation.

Featured Legislation

2002: The Forest Act was passed. The Act provides for the conservation and management of forest resources in Tanzania and regulates the trade of forest produce.

2003: The Atomic Energy Act was signed. The Act consists of 79 sections divided into 12 Parts: Preliminary (I); The Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission (II); Control of the use of ionizing radiation sources and installations (III); Control of radioactivity in foodstuffs (IV); Radiation protection, physical protection, nuclear safety, radioactive waste management and emergency preparedness (V); The control of radiation exposure from natural sources (VI); The control of devices producing non ionizing radiation (VII); The promotion of atomic energy and nuclear technology (VIII); The operations of the Commission relating to radiation protection services (IX); Financial resources of the Commission (X); Miscellaneous provisions (XI); Consequential and transitional provisions (XII).

2004: The Environmental Management Act was enacted. The Act was established. to provide for legal and institutional framework for sustainable management of environment;  to outline principles for management, impact and risk assessments, prevention and control of pollution, waste management, environmental quality standards, public participation, compliance and enforcement; to provide a basis for implementation of international instruments of environment; to provide for implementation of the National Environment Policy; to repeal the National Environment Management Act, 1983 and to provide for continued existence of the National Environment Management Council; to provide for the establishment of the National Environmental Trust Fund and to provide for other related matters.

The Act consists of 233 sections divided into 20 Parts: Preliminary provisions (I); General principles (II); Administration and institutional arrangement (III); Environment planning (IV); Environmental management (V); Environmental impact assessment and other assessments (VI); Strategic environmental assessment (VII); Pollution prevention and control (VIII): Waste management (IX); Environmental quality standards (X); Environmental Restoration, Easements and Conservation Order (XI); Analysis and records (XII); Environmental information, education and research (XIII); Public participation in environmental decision making (XIV); International Agreements (XV); Compliance and enforcement (XVI); Environmental Appeals Tribunal (XVII); National Environmental Trust Fund (XVIII); Financial provisions (XIX); General and transitional provisions (XX).

2009: The Public Health Act was promulgated. This Act makes provision with respect to matters of public health in Tanzania including control of (communicable) diseases, water pollution in ports, control of mosquitoes, sanitation, solid, liquid and hazardous waste management, control of gasses, sanitary control and quarantine in ports, sewerage and drainage, food safety and hygiene and supply of safe water.

2009: The Water Resources Management Act was introduced. This Act makes provision with respect to the management, use and protection in Tanzania of water resources, i.e. water courses, surface water, groundwater and estuary waters. The Act sets out fundamental principles of water use and conservation. It also states preferences in water allocation.

2009: The Wildlife Conservation Act was established. This Act makes provision with respect to management and conservation of biodiversity and wildlife, i.e. any wild and indigenous animals and plants, and their constituent habitats and ecosystems found on or in land or water, and provides for establishment and management of protected areas in mainland Tanzania. It also provides rules relative to trade in wildlife products and to breeding of wildlife.

2020: The Plant Health Act was instituted. This Act establishes the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticides Authority as a corporate body and provides for the constitution and administration of the authority. The Authority has the responsibility of plant health within the country, and specifically, to issue certificates relating to the phytosanitary measures; to perform the surveillance of growing plants both in domestic and wild flora and of plants and plant products in transportation with the object of reporting the outbreak and spread of pests and of controlling such pests; to disinfect or disinfects consignments of plants and plant products moving in international traffic to meet phytosanitary requirements; to protect endangered areas, to conduct pest risk analysis, register pesticides and bio-pesticides, etc. The Act prohibits the use of unregistered pesticides and mandates dealers who formulate, sell or manufacture pesticides to ensure their registration to enable the authority conduct a bio-efficacy trial and analysis of the said pesticide. A similar requirement applies in the importation and exportation of pesticides, where permits and other documents including phytosanitary certificates are required prior to importation or exportation of the plant or plant product. The Act provides that a phytosanitary certificate must show that the consignment is free from harmful pests or plant diseases, has been treated or meets the phytosanitary requirements of the importing country. The Act provides for inspectors and analysts to carry out the enforcement of the provisions of the Act and gives them the authority to detain, inspect, take sample and submit for examination, remove from treatment and treat any plants or plant products , to inspect premises and consignments, among others . The Act further provides rules for the packaging, labeling, transportation, storage and advertisement of pesticides. The Act empowers the Authority to control pests by declaring regulated pests, or declaring a pest to be of national concern, or quarantine a pest based on pest risk analysis.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

Approximately 25 percent of Tanzania’s land surface is reserved for wildlife protection and 40 percent for conservation, according to Paul Kadushi, Director of the Transnational and Specialized Crimes Division, National Prosecutions Service of Tanzania. Nevertheless, East Africa’s second-largest economy remains vulnerable to smuggling of illegally-acquired wildlife products – namely,  ivory and pangolin scales. The latest trends in environmental and wildlife crime in Tanzania reveal that strategic cross-sector partnerships are required for collaboration, as evidenced in one recent major ivory trafficking case in Tanzania. The conviction of Boniface Mathew Malyango, known as “Shetani Hana Huruma” (“the Devil has no mercy” in Kiswahili), was viewed as a decisive victory for conservation organizations in 2017. However, his conviction was quietly overturned in mid-2020. The case highlights the significant challenges that major wildlife trafficking investigations often face: corruption, delays in prosecution and poor evidence handling. While international partners and NGOs primarily focus on arrests and initial prosecutions, there is seldom follow-up to legal cases. Consider the Shetani case: Shetani became a house-hold name after the release of American actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary The Ivory Game. While estimates vary, it is believed that Shetani killed or ordered the killing of up to 10 000 elephants, and to have controlled poaching gangs in Tanzania, Burundi, Mozambique, Zambia and southern Kenya. He was arrested with his two brothers in October 2015 in Tanzania and convicted in 2017 on charges of “leading organized crime” and “unlawful dealing in government trophies”. Shetani’s initial prosecution relied on three key pieces of evidence: a confession that Shetani made to police officers upon his arrest that he was involved in the ivory trade; a caution statement where he again confessed to police; and physical evidence taken from Shetani’s car. Despite the damning evidence, an appeal to the high court was made and the first appeal judge had expunged the caution statement, on the grounds that it was not properly determined. The Court of Appeal judge also found that the evidence  would also have to be discounted. Tremendous gaps exist in the prosecution of environmental crimes due to conceptual clarity and Tanzania needs to align its mandates with existing international law and build capacity with global leaders, according to Kadushi.

References and Further Reading


Minister of State Union and Environment, Vice President’s Office Building: jafoselemani@gmail.com; ps@vpo.go.tz; km@vpo.go.tz