Where Are Our Graduates?

We are answering the most frequently asked question that we get through this final entry of our 4-part series.

Today we feature Barnabas Kaniki, graduate of cohort 1 of the training programme.

Barnabas works at the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA). Prior to joining the programme, Barnabas served as a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Gender Specialist (MEL Gender Specialist). In his role, he coordinated MEL activities within TAWLA while occasionally providing legal aid services. Barnabas’ involvement with PIL was limited to to researching and drafting which gave him exposure to some of the most prominent PIL cases in Tanzania, such as the Rebecca Gyumi case which challenged the constitutionality of child marriages in Tanzania.

Currently, Barnabas’ role at TAWLA has been expanded to coordinating Public Interest Law cases . His portfolio now includes a total of five PIL cases, two of which have already been filed, and with the remaining three due to be filed before the end of the year. Of the filed cases, one case challenges an issue that had been highly debated nation-wide i.e. the banning of pregnant school girls from continuing with their studies in public schools. The case which is cited as Tike Mwambipile and Equality Now Vs. Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania is currently before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The case seeks a declaration that the ban and its application is discriminatory against girl children and contravenes the African Charter. It also seeks an order compelling the Government of Tanzania to allow all girls who were expelled because of pregnancy and wish to continue with studies to resume studying in the same public school or another public school of their choice, if they are not comfortable with the former due to social stigma. The case also seeks an order to compel the Government of Tanzania to integrate comprehensive sexual education within the curriculum in its primary and secondary schools, as a means to curb the problem at its root. As such, Barnabas is still very actively involved in Public Interest Litigation through his mandate at TAWLA.

Besides his 9 to 5, Barnabas’ commitment to social justice has seen him challenging human rights violations of inmates within the prison settings in Tanzania. A case filed before the High Court of Tanzania (Joseph Mbilinyi Vs. The Commissioner General of Tanzania’s Prison Services, Misc Civil Cause №13 of 2021) seeks a declaration that repugnant practices such as holding more prisoners in cells beyond the cell capacity, providing meals below the prescribed diet scale, and punishment to prisoners without following due processes are unconstitutional. The case is still ongoing. In Barnabas’ words, once decided, the case will be a groundbreaking decision because it is the first case in Tanzania that attempts to bring to life human rights standards in Tanzania’s prison settings.

Barnabas is grateful for the opportunity afforded by the training programme to broaden his horizons. With colleagues in Uganda and Kenya, he has discovered a professional and personal pool of peers with whom to connect and share jurisprudence on different PIL matters. The programme also connected Barnabas to PIL experts who have continued to mentor him in his career, even long after graduating from the programme. At work, Barnabas also ably applies the knowledge and skills that he acquired from the training to the many cases that he is now working on.

Barnabas, like all the other graduates featured on this series (Rev. Fr. Felix Ndolo, Everlyn Kavenge Muendo and Najib Kasole) are part of a bigger pool of the EAEPIAP’s alumni who are championing social justice and the rule of law throughout East Africa . The network brings together some of the most promising human rights lawyers in the region who are devoted to working with communities towards a more just, equal, open and inclusive societies.

Thank you for following along. While this is the last feature of #WhereAreOurGraduates series, we hope that you enjoyed hearing about all the work that the programme’s alumni are up to. We look forward to sharing more of the programme’s outcomes and impact with you in the future.

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East Africa Public Interest Advocates Programme

Training the next cadre of Public Interest Advocates across the East African region. Briefly put — lawyering for the greater good!