The overall need to have a network of legal aid providers in Tanzania was expressed since early 1990s. This was reflected in the report of Judge Mark Bomani (UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, Financial and Legal Sector Upgrading Project (FILMUP), “Legal Sector Report,” Dar Es Salaam: Government Printer, 1996). The first network of legal aid providers was established in 1997 which was known as LEGALNET with the following members, Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA), Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), Women Legal Aid Centre (WLAC), Legal aid Committee of University of Dar es salaam and ENVIROCARE. This network was a loose network and was not formerly registered. The problem was compounded further by lack of donor support leading to its informal dissolution in 2000. Therefore, there was no network for legal aid providers from then until in 2006 when a number of Leading Legal Aid Providers, under the coordination of WiLDAF as stated above, decided to establish TANLAP.
TANLAP was established following realization of the need to have an active and independent network of legal aid providers to build the capacity of legal aid providers, to harmonize legal aid services and ethical conducts of legal aid providers and to have a collective forum for participation in policies and law reforms.
The founding legal aid providers comprised the following: The Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT); the Disabled Organization for Legal Affairs and Social Economic Development (DOLASED); Lawyers Environmental Action Tanzania (LEAT); Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC); Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA); Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF); Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC); and the National Organization for Legal Assistance (nola).
The main objectives of TANLAP are as follows:
- To strengthen the capacity building on legal literacy among legal aid providers.
- To extend and improve legal aid provision in the country.
- To initiate, promote, support as may be deemed expedient, any proposed legislation or other measure affecting the interests of its members.
- To build mutual understanding and coordination amongst legal aid providers and legal aid clients in the country.
TANLAP envisions a society with access to justice
TANLAP is an umbrella organization established to enhance the best practice and capacity of its members for quality legal aid services.
TANLAP is guided by the following core values.
- Local communities and poor people have potential to contribute to and to demand good Access to Justice. Local communities, even the poorest of the poor, have indigenous knowledge and creative ideas on how to improve their conditions of life by taking part in toward realization of timely justice for all.
- Partnership with local communities, through their networks, and other local, national and international actors on legal and human rights matters. Effective collaboration between different actors, both governmental and non-governmental, will create positive changes in legal and human rights landscape at local, national and international levels
- Integrity (respect and honesty) at all times. TANLAP secretariat and all members are expected to undertake diverse initiatives in enhancing access to timely justice with highest levels of integrity. They will not corruptly solicit or accept any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward for doing or refraining from doing anything in their official capacity or showing favour or disfavour to any person in that capacity.
- Transparency and accountability in our engagement with education policy and practice issues. TANLAP Secretariat and all members will undertake the work of promoting legal and human rights with transparency and strong sense of accountability at all times. The network will be transparent and accountable to all key stakeholders in conduct our business.
- Leadership and constancy of purpose. TANLAP will always ensure that its core functionsa are kept into focus. At all time,the network will be guided by a strategic plan and work plans that will be reviewed from time to time. The Network will strive to provide strategic leadership and coordination to sustain the network and make a difference toward realization of timely justice for all.