Relationship between police forces on Zanzibar and the mainland; whether police forces are unified and, if so, under which authority [TZA34943.E]

Information on the relationship between the police forces of Zanzibar and the mainland is limited among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The 1964 union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika has been described as resulting in a "complex set of Constitutional and legal arrangements" wherein Union authorities retained "a range of important spheres of competence" including national security (Article 19 Apr. 2000).

The Website of the Parliament of Tanzania describes this constitutional division of powers:

Areas in which the Tanzania parliament can exercise autonomous powers in the sphere of Union matters include the Constitution of the United Republic, Foreign Affairs, Defence and security, Police, Citizenship, Immigration, Foreign Trade, Civil services.... All non union matters which are not under purview of the Zanzibar Revolutionary government come under the jurisdiction of the United Republic (n.d.).
[Zanzibar] has its own separate Constitution (1985), President, Ministers (who are members of the ruling Zanzibar Revolutionary Council), House of Representatives (parliament) and legal system, including its own judiciary, penal code, police and prison administration. The Union (Tanzanian) government has overall responsibility for foreign affairs and national defence and security, and final authority over the Zanzibar police (who are under the Tanzanian Inspector General of Police) (AI Jan. 2000).

In correspondence received 24 August 2000, the National Programme Officer, United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), Regional Office for Eastern Africa, wrote:

An Inspector General of Police (IGP) heads the Police Department. The former IGP was the African Vice-President of Interpol and a well-known figure in drug control circles. Reporting to the IGP are four Commissioners with the following responsibilities: Criminal Investigation Division (CID), Administration and Finance, Operations and Training, and the Zanzibar Police....

The marine police unit has ten stations as follows:

On the coast: Tanga, Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Mtwara;Lake Victoria: Bukoba, Shirati, Mwanza;Lake Tanganyika: Kigoma, Kipili;Lake Myasa: Itungi
The total compliment of personnel [in the marine police] is 200, however on the coast they have no functional boats and in the lakes there are only three old poorly maintained vessels (UNDCP 24 Aug. 2000).

The Sungusungu, neighbourhood and village anticrime groups which have traditionally supported the police, are reported to remain active in rural areas and, in 1985, were given quasi-legal status through amendments to the People's Militia Laws (Country Reports 1999 25 Feb. 2000). Country Reports 1999 writes of a 1997 presidential initiative "to have government law enforcement officials work co-operatively with Sungusungu," resulting in the Sungusungu being given the right to arrest persons (ibid.). According to Country Reports 1999, these groups have been accused of using "excessive force with criminal suspects" (ibid.).

In April 2000, there were reports that the Inspector General of Police, Omar Mahita, had issued orders to "deal harshly with 'rioters' in Zanzibar and Pemba" (The East African 20 Apr. 2000) and called on police to "book all people involved so as to restore the force's credibility" (PST 9 Apr. 2000). Following this order, PST reported that police had been "patrolling Zanzibar town," had been more visible on the streets, and arrests and beatings had resulted (ibid.). PANA reported that 200 police officers were deployed from the mainland to Zanzibar to "beef up security" in the run up to the October 2000 elections (15 Aug. 2000).

According to Country Reports 1999, "pervasive corruption is a serious problem in the police force" (25 Feb. 2000, Section I). In an effort to clean up the force, the Inspector General fired 150 police officials in June 1999 (ibid.). According to International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 1999, Tanzanian anti-narcotic efforts are hampered "due to lack of resources and corruption among local officials" (Mar. 2000).

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 1999 also writes that training on "major case management" was provided to one hundred Tanzanian police officers by the FBI in two one-week training sessions during 1999 (ibid.). The Government of Tanzania has also requested financial support from the US Department of State to invest in equipment such as motor vehicles, motor bikes, computers for data processing, boats for the lakes and the coast, cell phones, and telex machines (International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 1997 Mar. 1998).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please see below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Response.


Amnesty International (AI) [London]. January 2000. Tanzania: Prisoners of Conscience Face Treason Trial in Zanzibar. AFR 56/01/00. [Accessed 1 Aug. 2000]

Article 19 (A19) [London]. April 2000. Democracy on Shaky Foundations. [Accessed 31 July 2000]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 25 February 2000. United States Department of State. [Accessed 24 July 2000]

The East African [Nairobi]. 20 April 2000. "EU Wants Zanzibar Impasse Resolved." (NEXIS)

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 1999. March 2000. [Accessed 9 Aug. 2000]

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 1997. March 1998. [Accessed 9 Aug. 2000]

Panafrican News Agency (PANA). 14 August 2000. "Controversy Deepens Over Strengthening of Security." [Accessed 16 Aug. 2000]

Parliament of Tanzania. [Accessed 31 July 2000]

Press Services Tanzania (PST) [Dar es Salaam]. 9 April 2000. "Zanzibar Streets Deserted as Police Intensify Patrols." (NEXIS)

United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP). 24 August 2000. Correspondence received from National Programme Officer, Regional Office for Eastern Africa.

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential

Africa Research Bulletin

Armaments, Disarmaments and International Security, SIPRI

Canadian High Commission [Tanzania]. 21 June 2000. "Zanzibar." Correspondence received from Refugees Branch, Asylum Division, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Current History

Europa World Year Book 1999

Indian Ocean Newsletter[Paris]

IRB Databases

Jane's Defense Weekly, 1998-present

Jane's Foreign Report, 1998-present

Political Handbook of the World: 1999

Political Systems of the World:


RCMP Police College Resource Centre

Resource Centre, Tanzania Country File

Strategic Survey 1999-2000, International Institute for Strategic Studies

Tanzania Country Assessment, Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), Home Office, UK

Resource Centre. Tanzania Country File. 1997-August 2000

World Encyclopedia of Police Forces and Penal Systems

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet Sites including:

Business Day [Johannesburg]

Civic United Front

Columbia University Area Studies, Tanzania: Resources, Politics and Human Rights

Criminal Justice Systems

Human Rights Watch
Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (INCORE),

Guide to Internet sources on conflict and ethnicity in Tanzania

International Commission of Jurists

One World Online

Patterns of Global Terrorism

Policing in Democratic Societies Newsletter [Ottawa]

Post Express Wired

Tanzania Studies Association

Tanzanian News

The Express [Dar es Salaam]

The Guardian [Dar es Salaam]

Tomric Agency [Dar es Salaam]

UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP), East Africa Region

University of Pennsylvania, Tanzania Page

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)

Non-Documentary Sources:

Unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from 12 non-documentary sources