What We Do

This is the first ever strategy of the Centre for Strategic Litigation. As such the strategy adopts an iterative, flexible and adaptive approach to programming to provide room for much needed learning across the period of implementation. The strategy also provides for the consolidation of the CSL vision and testing of key hypothesis guarding the center’s programming in order to generate workable evidence of the same. CSL’s approaches this strategy with an open and curious mind while eager to learn from best practices of others as well as its own learnings.

During the next 5 years (2019-2023), CSL will deploy varying approaches in line with the strategic priorities laid out in this strategy. Litigation remains the core of CSL’s work and the anchor of various other activities. Litigation will help generate a body of knowledge ad evidence while also contributing to advocacy among various coalitions with which the CSL works. However, CSL realizes that LITIGATION by its own rights is not panacea to the current challenges facing rule of law, constitutionalism and the supremacy of the constitution in Tanzania. As such for litigation to work sufficient investment needs to be made in order to build both sustainable demand on the part of citizens but also reasonable capacity on the part of the state in order for it to be responsive to growing demand for justice and rule of law. Litigation by itself may not be sufficient to catalyse the kind of legislative and constitutional reform or even changes in practice and behaviour desired if other means including the deployment of strategic advocacy are disregarded. Therefore the centre will invest in building knowledge and evidence, curating public debate and education, training and capacity of building, advocacy, media engagement and mobilization while also contributing to reforming the criminal justice system to uphold rule of law and protect rights of citizens particularly those of the most vulnerable.


CSL activities will be clustered into;


to build a body of evidence on rule of law, constitutionalism, human rights, judicial activism and other related subjects. Beyond scheduled annual studies, CSL will produce analysis including political economy analysis on rule of law in Tanzania and the Annual Rule of Law Index and Review. To support the litigation work, a dedicated research unit will produce legal research to facilitate CSL’s petitions.. CSL will invest in gathering, debating and producing knowledge and evidence on rule of law, the constitution and constitutionalism in Tanzania. Working with our research partners, constitutional and legal scholars, communities, the judiciary, relevant government and civil society counterparts we will build a body of knowledge and compelling evidence to support public interest litigation and advocacy for legal and constitutional reform in Tanzania.


to challenge laws, practices and norms that hinder fundamental freedoms and rights enshrined in the constitution and international obligations. Powered by research and impeccable evidence, CSL will seek to litigate at national and regional courts challenging violation of key rights while also utilizing litigation to reform laws that have contributed to the denial of basic rights and freedoms. The litigation will be informed by work undertaken in conjunction with the extensive network of paralegals and legal aid providers in the country to identify and examine issues deserving class action or public interest litigation. In some cases and subject to determination, CSL will litigate against laws, acts and omissions that amount to violation of key rights and freedoms as provided for in the Tanzanian constitution. This will be informed by CSL’s work in coalition with other civil society partners and will be framed to catalyse on-going advocacy by the partners.


to amplify CSL’s work through litigation but also as an alternative to litigation. CSL appreciates that not all matters deserving public attention or needing reform will be admissible through the courts of law. In some cases, litigation may likely produce adverse effects towards the petitioners or may lead to further impunity by the state in which case other approaches especially advocacy may be more useful. In this regard, CSL will contribute to advocacy through its superior legal and constitutional knowledge while also sharing its own legal and context analysis to further enhance such advocacy. We will leverage the growing network of paralegals, legal aid providers and public legal education providers to involve and collaborate with communities including vulnerable and marginalized communities. We use legal aid cases and processes to identify challenges, issues, concerns and grounds for initiating public interest litigation to address admissible grievances through the courts of law. We work with those affected by the enactment, abuse and arbitrary use of existing legislation to challenge impunity, laws and practices that are in contravention of the constitution. Through rigorous action research, advocacy, judicial review and strategic litigation we will contribute to the development of case law and we move the courts to redress obstacles that inhibit constitutional supremacy in Tanzania.