Who We Are

The Center for Strategic Litigation (CSL) is a Tanzania based not for profit organisation that seeks to advance the vision of a just and tolerant society, and a vibrant and inclusive democracy grounded in respect for the rule of Law and justice for all.  Based in Zanzibar, the Center works at the interface of advocacy and litigation. CSL was founded to advance a democratic culture in Tanzania where the supremacy of the constitution and respect for the Rule of Law are central pillars. CSL deploys the law to encourage citizen agency in advancing the rule of law through strategic litigation, public education, petitioning, legal research and judicial reviews as well as strategic use of media, especially online media. CSL seeks to advance the development of case law on democracy, rule of law and freedom of expression in Tanzania.

What We Do

The Litigation unit addresses laws and practices that constrain civic space, promote impunity, violate the Constitution and fundamental freedoms by instituting and following up on these cases before the high court of Zanzibar and High Court of Tanzania as well regional courts. The litigation covers a broad spectrum of rights, subject to determination of relevance, laws, acts and omissions that amount to violation of key rights and freedoms as provided for in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and international instruments to which Tanzania is a party. The intervention through litigation takes the shape of  appearance as an interested party either independently, or in cooperation with similar organizations and individuals in different cases relevant to CSL’s vision and mission. Regionally and internationally, the unit intervenes in processes or cases before the East African Court of Justice, African Court on Human and Peoples Rights and other international human rights bodies, and, where relevant, partners with different organizations in foreign domestic cases that have an international impact.

The Research and Knowledge Department leads on the production of the civic space monitor, rule of law survey and political economy analysis published in every alternate year. As per CSL’s five year strategic plan (2019 to 2023), the work of the Research and Knowledge Department is inclined towards the enhancement of knowledge, evidence and analysis on public interest litigation, rule of law and constitutionalism in Tanzania; establishes an offline and online repository of research, analysis, briefs, academic research, audiovisual content and other documentation; establishes action research to produce original knowledge and evidence through working with communities affected by breach of rule of law, and undertakes a national study on rule of law/index based on global best practice to inform a localized index and produce research, briefs and analysis on the political economy of the rule of law in Tanzania including on the role of the judiciary. 

The East Africa Emerging Public Interest Advocates Programme for young legal professionals is a flagship fellowship programme by the Center for Strategic Litigation (CSL), currently in partnership with 19 other East African organisations including The East African Court of Justice which is a regional organisation; Katiba Institute, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), and Kituo cha Sheria from Kenya; Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT), Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), and The Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) from Uganda; and the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) from Tanzania. The programme empowers young advocates through rigorous skills-based training and practical experience in public interest litigation. The goal of the programme is to build the next generation of public interest advocates in East Africa who share a commitment to and passion for promoting social justice and democratic values. This comes from the realisation that there is a limited number of active public interest litigants as most lawyers prefer careers in private and other fields of law. The fellowship provides up to 30 outstanding young advocates from Kenya, Tanzania (mainland), Tanzania (Zanzibar) and Uganda. A 10% special quota is provided for young lawyers from Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan who meet the requirements for attending the program. Through a tailored approach, the training provides fellows with an opportunity to learn from public interest litigation and advocacy academics and practitioners, both in class and in court for six (6) months under the following carefully designed curriculum:

  • Residential training

Intensive 1-month residential training programme. The residency combines lectures, court visits, community engagement, and practical learning through moot courts and mock trials. Fellows interact with some of the leading practitioners and scholars in human rights, constitutionalism and public interest litigation in East Africa.

  • Practicum

4.5 months of practical work in partner organizations under the tutelage of a dedicated mentor. Fellows work on selected problems under the mentorship of an experienced public interest litigant. Practical training in Public Interest litigation and advocacy takes place during this phase.

  • Closing Seminars

Fellows, trainers, and mentors convene in residence for reflection, evaluation of progress, and to determine the way forward. The programme for the respective cohort concludes at this stage as fellows join the programme’s alumni network.