Tanzania

 

  • Adoption of Tanzania's Universal Periodic Review

    Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Human Rights -- Outcome Adoption for Tanzania

    Delivered by Sibahle Zuma

    CIVICUS and its partners welcome the Republic of Tanzania’s engagement with the UPR process and for accepting the majority of its recommendations.

    We particularly welcome Tanzania’s commitment to amend the restrictive Media Services Act of 2016, which is a critical opportunity to address long-standing gaps in existing media legislation and has the potential to expand the space available to media actors to exercise their fundamental rights. We also welcome the lifting of the ban on the four newspapers – Mawio, Mwanahalisi, Tanzania Daima, and Mseto. We further welcome the Republic’s commitment to conducting investigations of all threats and attacks against and killings of journalists, civil society actors and human rights defenders and holding those responsible to account.

    Notwithstanding these positive developments, we remain concerned about the civic space restrictions that remain. Tanzanian law guarantees a number of rights consistent with international standards; however, citizens' ability to exercise these rights is severely limited in practice. Individuals and organisations frequently refrain from exercising their right to free expression, both online and in print, out of fear of arrest, censorship, and persecution.

    Recommendations to amend restrictive laws to guarantee freedom of expression have only been partially accepted.

    While we welcome the recent release of opposition leader Freeman Mbowe after eight months in custody on charges believed to be politically motivated, we note that authorities continue to systematically use the justice system as a tool to target and harass members and leaders of the opposition. Authorities also ban public gatherings to thwart protests, and arrest peaceful protesters.

    We regret that Tanzania did not accept a recommendation to amend the Non-Governmental Organisations Act (Amendments) Regulation 2018, in line with international human rights standards on freedoms of association and peaceful assembly.

    CIVICUS and its partners call on the Government of the Republic of Tanzania to immediately and urgently take measures to implement all UPR recommendations, particularly those pertaining to efforts to addressing civic space and human rights.

    We thank you.


    Civic space in Tanzania is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor 

     

     

  • Amendments on the Media Services Act of 2016 of Tanzania

    Global civil society alliance CIVICUS welcomes the commitment by the Tanzanian authorities to review the restrictive Media Services Act of 2016 and create a more enabling environment for media outlets and journalists. The proposed review presents a key moment to address long-standing deficits in existing media legislation. It has the potential of opening the space for media actors to exercise their fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.

     

  • blank

  • Citizens’ voices: defending democracy in Tanzania

    Open submission by Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director of Twaweza East Africa

     

  • CIVICUS at the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council

    The 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 18 June to 6 July 2018, will consider core civic space issues of freedom of association, assembly and expression. During this session, CIVICUS will be supporting advocacy missions on the grave human rights situations in Tanaznia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and Nicaragua, while also participating in reviews of citizen rights in Burundi, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the European Union. Additional areas to note:

    • The first week of the session will coincide with World Refugee Day (20 June)
    • Be the first session of the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly, Clement Voule
    • Process to renew and strengthen the Civic Space Resolution

    If you are in Geneva, please join us at the following events that CIVICUS is organising with partners:

    These events will be livestreamed on our CIVICUS Facebook Page and daily updates provided on Twitter.

     

  • CIVICUS' United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Submissions on Civil Society Space

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 4 countries in advance of the 39th UPR session in October 2021. The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.

     

  • Countries of concern at the Human Rights Council

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Countries of concern

    Civic space restrictions often precede wider human rights abuses. In order to prevent further repression, we would like to draw the Council’s attention to the following:

    Last year, several civil society organisations raised Tanzania’s worrying decline in respect for fundamental freedoms. Now, sweeping new legislation, rushed through its parliament in June, places new punitive restrictions on CSOs in the country. As the situation deteriorates further, the time left for the Council to take preventative action is running out.

    In Honduras, the government’s violent response to peaceful protests have left at least three dead, including a 17-year-old student, and many more injured. Honduras has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries for human rights defenders facing constant violence, criminalization, and slander. 

    The past 40 days have seen severe restrictions to fundamental rights in Kashmir. Sweeping internet blackouts have had serious implications on freedom of expression and access to information. There have been reports of restrictions on movement and numerous ongoing arrests, including of activists, and we call on the Council to establish an independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations.

    We are concerned that elections in Kazakhstan were marred by serious restrictions to freedom of peaceful assembly and of expression. Crackdowns on protests related to the elections, and persecution of journalists, marked yet another regressive measure to silence dissent in Kazakhstan.

    Finally, CIVICUS remains deeply concerned about the situation in Saudi Arabia. At the last Council Session, we joined other CSOs to call for a monitoring mechanism in Saudi Arabia. No action has been taken, women human rights defenders remain detained, the space for participation remains virtually non-existent, and investigations into the killing of Jamal Kashoggi remained shrouded in lack of transparency. It is past time for the Council to take action on Saudi Arabia and we reiterate calls on the Council to address human rights violations with the utmost urgency.

     

  • EAST AFRICA: ‘The pipeline project would open up critical ecosystems to commercial oil exploitation’

    OmarElmawiCIVICUS speaks about the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project and its potential impacts on the climate and on the health and livelihoods of local communities with Omar Elmawi, coordinator of the Stop the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (#StopEACOP).

    #StopEACOP is a global online campaign that seeks to raise awareness of the effects of the project and calls for its cancellation.

    What is EACOP, and what is wrong with it?

    EACOP is a project to extract and transport crude oil from Uganda to Tanzania, led by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and French energy conglomerate TotalEnergies alongside the Uganda National Oil Company and Tanzania Petroleum Development Cooperation.

    If it goes on, EACOP would have disastrous consequences for local communities, for wildlife and for the entire planet. In other words, it will affect humans, nature and climate. It threatens to displace thousands of families and farmers from their land. It poses significant risks to water resources and wetlands in both Uganda and Tanzania – including the Lake Victoria basin, which over 40 million people rely on for drinking water and food production.

    Additionally, EACOP would increase the severity of the global climate emergency by transporting oil that, when burned, will generate over 34 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. The pipeline would also open up critical ecosystems in the landlocked regions of Central and Eastern Africa to commercial oil exploitation.

    It would also rip through numerous sensitive biodiversity hotspots and risk significantly degrading several nature reserves crucial to the preservation of threatened species, including elephants, lions and chimpanzees.

    How are you mobilising against EACOP?

    Civil society came together under a global campaign that we have called #StopEACOP, aimed at sharing news related to the pipeline project and distributing resources to help people organise and take action against it.

    #StopEACOP is led by an alliance of local groups and communities and African and global civil society organisations (CSOs). Over 260 CSOs have endorsed it and are working towards realising the campaign’s objectives through public mobilisation, legal action, research, shareholder activism and media advocacy.

    Since environmental licences have been awarded for the pipeline and associated oil fields in Kingfisher and Tilenga, several cases have been filed against the EACOP pipeline, including at the East African Court of Justice and in French courts against TotalEnergies, under the duty of vigilance law.

    We hope that our campaign will put enough pressure on the companies and governments involved so that they will put an end to the pipeline project and prioritise the wellbeing of people and the environment.

    How have the governments involved responded to the #StopEACOP campaign?

    The governments of both Tanzania and Uganda are committed to seeing this project through despite the fact that each will receive only 15 per cent of the proceeds from the crude oil going through the pipeline. TotalEnergies and CNOOC hold 70 per cent of the pipeline’s shares, so they will be the ones pocketing 70 per cent of the proceeds from crude oil.

    Additionally, TotalEnergies and CNOOC both get tax benefits, including a waiver on payment of corporate tax for 10 years once the pipeline becomes operational and on the value-added tax on imported products and materials needed for the pipeline. They are required to pay only five per cent in withholding tax instead of the required 15 per cent.

    We haven’t stopped trying to engage the Tanzanian and Ugandan governments, although some of our members, and especially community partners, have been arrested and detained, had their offices raided or been threatened with the deregistration of their organisations. The government has had a part to play in most if not all these challenges, but we have continued to engage and use all legal mechanisms and processes available to make sure our community partners are protected.

    What kind of support do you need from international civil society and the wider international community?

    Allied organisations, activists and regular people are welcome to visit our website and click on our action page, which suggests a variety of actions addressed at the companies involved and governments and their funders and insurers. Please take as many of the actions listed as you can, prioritising those targeting insurance companies and banks. This is key because the EACOP project will need multi-billion-dollar loans to proceed, as well as numerous insurance policies covering every component of the project.

    People can also donate to the cause. All the resources we receive are shared with our community partners and support any security and legal needs that may arise, including legal representation fees.

    You can follow us on our social media pages to get updates on the campaign and subscribe to receive email updates on the progress of the campaign and upcoming actions that you can endorse or take part in.

    Civic space in bothTanzania andUganda is rated ‘repressed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with #StopEACOP through itswebsite or its Facebook and Instagram pages,and follow @stopEACOP on Twitter. 

     

  • Joint statement on the role of the UN in the prevention of human rights crises

    Joint statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

    Madam President, Rapporteurs,

    Firstly, while we acknowledge the exceptional circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret the limitations placed on inclusive and meaningful civil society participation, including in General Debates, and these circumstances should it set any precedents that would allow further restriction in the future. 

    CIVICUS and DefendDefenders welcome this timely report on the Council’s prevention mandate, a crucial part of the Council’s work. The report concluded that one identifying sign of an emerging human rights crisis, which could form part of a trigger mechanism for Council action, are ‘the targeting of human rights defenders, journalists or civil society organizations’.

    Indeed, unwarranted restrictions on civic space enable wider human rights violations, and are often an early warning sign of a crisis.

    Too often, we see these signs overlooked, with states raising concern only when the situation has deteriorated beyond the realm of prevention. This report, and statements made during the High-Level Segment of this session, articulates a commitment made by states to strengthen the Council’s prevention mandate. But rhetoric must translate to action.

    The rapidly deteriorating situation in Tanzania presents an opportunity to do so.

    We continue to document the use of draconian legislation and of legal and extra-judicial methods to restrict freedom of expression and opinion, peaceful assembly and association, and the overall closure of the civic and democratic space.  In recent months, independent media outlets have been suspended and closed by the authorities, journalists and human rights defenders have been subjected to judicial persecution, harassment and intimidation. The authorities have imposed blanket restrictions on peaceful political assemblies and introduced laws to undermine freedom of speech online.  More violations have been documented in relation to concerns raised about the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    In line with the report, these developments are indicative of a mounting human rights crisis. This Council, and its members and observers, must take meaningful preventative action to prevent further escalation. The window of opportunity to do so is narrowing by the day. 


    Civic space in Tanzania is currently rated as Repressed  by the CIVICUS Monitor

    See our wider advocacy priorities and programme of activities at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • Nigeria: Post 2015, 10 Manifestos and Maternal Health

    The atmosphere was pensive and highly emotional at the Professor Mahmoud F. Fathalla, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and chair of the WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research was reciting the proposed 10 manifestos for maternal health post-2015.

    Some couldn't control it, as tears dropped and the entire hall gave him a standing ovation at the end of the citation. It wasn't an ovation for the respected professor only but an ovation that depicts people's resolve to support the implementation of the manifestos.


    It was the closing ceremony of the 2nd Maternal Global Health Conference which took place from January 15 to 17, 2013, with over 800 experts in maternal health that came together in Arusha, Tanzania, to present the latest evidence on improving the quality of care for women during pregnancy and childbirth.


    Read more at allAfrica

     

  • Reaction to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights update

    Statement at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

    Thank you, High Commissioner for your update, which takes place in a difficult and unprecedented context.

    We agree with your assessment that human rights violations result primarily from processes that exclude people's voices, and gaps in protection measures. These are issues which the Council is well-placed to address.

    To this end, we hope that the Council will this session continue to address the situation in the Philippines with a strong resolution which reflects the dire human rights situation in the country and pursues accountability. Given that the situation in Burundi continues to be characterised by violations and impunity we urge the Council to renew the vital mandate of the Commission of Inquiry. We further call on the Council to heed calls from civil society and its own Special Procedures to address the escalating violations in China – in Hong Kong, Tibet and in Xinjiang – as well as to address attacks on rights defenders, journalists, and government critics across the country.

    High Commissioner, restrictions to civic space are often precursors to a worsening human rights situation. When the Council fails to address these, it misses the opportunity to work constructively to prevent further human rights violations and fails those who will be affected. A resolution on the Council’s prevention mandate should address this gap. Echoing your call, we call for immediate and sustained preventive action on Tanzania before the situation deteriorates further.

    Finally, High Commissioner, we welcome efforts to ensure civil society participation despite COVID-19 restrictions. Being able to meet with and hear directly from human rights defenders in the room, and in-person, has long been a strength of this Council. We call on the members and observers of the Council to strengthen collaboration with partners from civil society to further our mutual goals of protecting human rights.


    Current council members:

    Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, SomaliaSudan, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela

    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

  • Statement to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights: Countries on the civic space watchlist

    37th Session of the Human Rights Council
    Oral statement at Interactive Dialogue with UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

    CIVICUS commends the High Commissioner for his report, and for his commitment to standing alongside victims of the world's most egregious human rights violations by continuously bringing attention of their plight to this Council.

    Mr President, CIVICUS shares the High Commissioner's grave concern over growing restrictions on civic space in Cambodia, Cameroon, Poland, Tanzania and Honduras. We note that these five countries have been placed on the CIVICUS Monitor's Watch List, which draws attention to countries where there are serious and ongoing threats to civic space.

    In Cameroon, reports of renewed violence against protesters have emerged as the authorities have shut down internet access in Anglophone regions of the country. The government has also taken sharp measures to control and limit freedom of expression by suspending journalists’ activities and radio and television stations’ operations.

    In the run-up to Cambodia’s 2018 general elections, the government has attempted to silence the opposition and suppress civic space, shutting down independent media and arresting activists. Repression of dissenting voices makes it highly unlikely that elections will take place in a transparent and democratic manner.

    Poland’s current trajectory has caused grave concern as the government seeks to restrict civil and political freedoms and control the judiciary and civil society organisations. Worringly, a new body closely related to the office of the president has been created to control the flow of funding to civil society organisations, which could result in only pro-government groups being funded.

    Peaceful protests following Honduras´ recent elections, which were criticised by the opposition and international observers, were met by security forces using excessive force. Several protesters were killed and many others injured and arbitrarily detained.

    Tanzania has remained on the Monitor Watch List and CIVICUS echoes the High Commissioner’s concern over the authorities’ unrelenting attacks on the media, civil society and the LGBTI community in particular.

    Mr President, restrictions on civic space are often a bellwether for further violations of human rights and allow states to act with impunity. CIVICUS asks the High Commissioner how his office intends to support local civil society fighting for human rights on the ground to respond to this global crackdown.

     

  • Tanzania continues clampdown with new restrictive laws that undermine development

    By Paul Mulindwa, an advocacy and campaigns officer with CIVICUS.

    'Tanzania's human rights comes in the form of sweeping new legislation, rushed through its parliament last week, that places new punitive restrictions on civil society organisations and tourism', writes Paul Mulindwa.

    While the government of Tanzania trumpets its Vision 2025 – a lofty plan to become a middle-income country within the next six years through sustainable development – it continues to thwart real development with its ongoing campaign to clampdown on fundamental freedoms in the country.

    Its latest attack on human rights comes in the form of sweeping new legislation, rushed through its parliament last week, that places new punitive restrictions on civil society organisations (CSOs) and tourism in Tanzania. 

    Read on: News24

     

  • Tanzania, Kenya, Angola Join Watch List of Countries of Concern

    Attacks by the authorities on protesters, critics, NGOs and the media in Angola, Kenya and Tanzania have led global civil alliance, CIVICUS, to add the nations to its Watch List of countries where there are serious and ongoing threats to civic space.

    The updated Watch List, which is regularly reviewed in response to current events, was released today.

     

  • Tanzania: Systematic restrictions on fundamental freedoms in the run-up to national elections

    READ IN SWAHILI (KISWAHILI)

    Civil society letter endorsed by over 65 organisations to President of Tanzania ahead of 28 October National Elections 


    To: President John Magufuli

    Excellency, 

    We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of democracy, human rights and rule of law in the United Republic of Tanzania. In the past five years, we have documented the steady decline of the country into a  state of repression, evidenced by the increased harassment, intimidation, prosecution, and persecution of political activists, human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists and media houses; the enactment of restrictive laws; and disregard for rule of law, constitutionalism, as well as regional and international human rights standards. We are deeply concerned that the situation has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic and as the country heads for general elections on 28 October 2020.[1]

    Tanzania as a party to several regional and international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, has a legal obligation to respect and protect fundamental rights, particularly the right to - freedom of expression and the media, peacefully assemble, form and join associations, and to participate in public affairs, which are fundamental rights for free and fair elections in a democratic society. As a member of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tanzania has committed to uphold and promote democratic principles, popular participation, and good governance.

    Leading up to the elections in Tanzania, we have unfortunately documented an unfavourable environment for public participation and free engagement in the political process. The role of the media in providing information and access to varying viewpoints in a true democracy is indispensable. Media houses must be allowed to provide these services without undue restrictions, yet in recent times, several independent media houses have been suspended. These have included the seven-day suspensions of The Citizen newspaper in February 2019,[2] Clouds TV and Clouds FM in August 2020, and the six-month suspension of Kwanza online TV in September 2019[3] and again in July 2020 for 11 months;[4] the online publication ban against Mwananchi news in April 2020;[5] the revocation, effective June 24, 2020, of the license of the Tanzania Daima newspaper;[6] and the fines against online stations, Watetezi TV and Ayo TV in September 2019.[7]We note, with great disappointment, that the government is yet to comply with a ruling by the East African Court of Justice requiring the amendment of the Media Services Act to address the unjustified restrictions on freedom of expression.[8]

    We are further concerned about the restrictions on individuals peacefully expressing their opinions, including criticising public officials.[9] The latter are required to tolerate a greater amount of criticism than others - a necessary requirement for transparency and accountability. Tanzania’s criminal justice system has however been misused to target those who criticize the government. Tito Magoti and IT expert Theodory Giyani were arrested in December 2019 and questioned over their social media use and association with certain government critics.[10] The duo were subsequently charged with economic crimes, including “money laundering” which is a non-bailable offence. Despite their case being postponed more than 20 times since December 2019, and no evidence being presented against them, they remain in pre-trial detention.[11] Investigative journalist Erick Kabendera was similarly arrested and charged with “money laundering” where he was held in pre-trial detention for seven months with his case postponed over ten times.[12] Several United Nations (UN) mandate holders have raised concern about the misuse of the country’s anti-money laundering laws that “allow the Government to hold its critics in detention without trial and for an indefinite period.”[13]

    Most recently, a prominent human rights lawyer and vocal critic of the government, Fatma Karume was disbarred from practising law in Tanzania following submissions she made in a constitutional case challenging the appointment of the Attorney General.[14] Other lawyers are also facing disciplinary proceedings for publicly raising issues on judicial independence and rule of law.  Opposition leader, Zitto Kabwe was arrested and prosecuted for statements made calling for accountability for extrajudicial killings by State security agents.[15] The above cases are clear evidence of intolerance for alternative views and public debate.

    In addition, authorities should ensure respect for the right of individuals to freely form associations and for those associations to participate in public affairs, without unwarranted interference. We note the increasing misuse of laws to restrict and suspend the activities of civil society organisations.[16] On August 12, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) was notified that its bank accounts had been frozen pending police investigations. THRDC’s coordinator was then summoned by the police to explain an alleged failure to submit to the State Treasury its contractual agreements with donors.[17]  Prior to this, in June 2020, the authorities disrupted the activities of THRDC for allegedly contravening “laws of the land.”[18] Several other non-governmental organisations working on human rights issues have been deregistered or are facing harassment for issuing public statements critical of the government. Ahead of the elections some civil society organisations have reported being informally told by authorities to cease activities. As a result of the repressive environment, civil society organisations have been forced to self-censor activities. 

    We also note the enactment of further restrictive laws.[19] For example, the Written Laws Miscellaneous Amendments Act (The Amendment Act)[20] which has introduced amendments to 13 laws.[21] The Amendment Act requires anyone making a claim for violation of rights to have been personally affected.[22] This limits the ability of civil society organisations to carry out legal aid and law-based activities where they are not personally harmed. It violates Article 26(2) of the country’s Constitution, which provides for the right of every person “to take legal action to ensure the protection of this Constitution and the laws of the land.” Furthermore, it is an internationally recognized best practice that all persons, whether individually or in association with others, have the right to seek an effective remedy before a judicial body or other authority in response to a violation of human rights.[23] The Amendment Act further provides that lawsuits against the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, or Chief Justice cannot be brought against them directly but must be brought against the Attorney General.[24] This provision undermines government accountability for human rights violations. We remind the authorities that international bodies have raised concerns about Tanzania’s repressive laws.[25]

    We are especially concerned over the continued cases of verbal threats and physical attacks against members of opposition political parties.[26] We note with concern that to date, no one has been held accountable for the 2017 attack against the CHADEMA party leader, Tundu Lissu, who is a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections. Most recently, opposition leader Freeman Mbowe was brutally attacked and his assailants are still at large. Failure to thoroughly and impartially investigate such cases breeds a culture of violence and impunity, which in turn threatens the peace and security of the country. The government must take steps to bring perpetrators of such violence to account and to guarantee the safety of all other opposition party members and supporters.

    Earlier, in November 2019, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) issued a press statement on the “deteriorating human rights situation in Tanzania.”[27] The Commission specifically voiced concern over “the unprecedented number of journalists and opposition politicians jailed for their activities.” The ongoing crackdown on civic space in Tanzania also led the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to issue a strong warning ahead of the 28 October 2020 General Elections. At the opening of the UN Human Rights Council’s 45th session, she “[drew] the Council's attention to increasing repression of the democratic and civic space, in what is becoming a deeply deteriorated environment for human rights” and stressed that “[with] elections approaching later this month, we are receiving increasing reports of arbitrary arrests and detention of civil society actors, activists, journalists and members of opposition parties.” She added: “Further erosion of human rights could risk grave consequences, and I encourage immediate and sustained preventive action.”[28]

    While we acknowledge measures taken by your government to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect the citizens of Tanzania, we are deeply concerned that the pandemic has been used to unduly restrict fundamental freedoms. Examples are the arrest and sentencing of two Kenyan journalists for interviewing members of the public in Tanzania on the status of the pandemic in the country[29] as well as, the suspension of  Kwanza Online TV for reposting an alert by the U.S. embassy in Tanzania regarding the pandemic in the country.[30]  The rights to peacefully express one’s opinion, receive information, peaceful assembly and association, and to participate in public affairs are not only essential in the context of the upcoming elections, but also in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Freedom of expression in particular, ensures “the communication of information to the public, enabling individuals to … develop opinions about the public health threat so that they can take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their communities.”[31]  The UN has repeatedly emphasized that Government responses to COVID-19 must not be used as a pretext to suppress individual human rights or to repress the free flow of information.[32] 

    The need for Tanzania to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law is now more than ever important as a matter of national security, following recent reports of insurgent attacks along Tanzania’s border with Mozambique.[33] Studies have shown that experiences of injustice, marginalization and a breakdown in rule of law, are root causes of disaffection and violence. A peaceful and prosperous nation requires good governance and respect for rule of law, with a society that protects fundamental freedoms and ensures justice for all.

    As civil society organisations deeply concerned about constitutionalism, justice, and democracy in the United Republic of Tanzania, we strongly urge your Excellency to adhere to your undertaking to ensure a free and fair election in Tanzania. The government has an obligation to create an enabling environment for everyone, including political opposition, non-governmental organisations, journalists, and other online users, HRDs, and other real or perceived government opponents to exercise their human rights without fear of reprisals. As such, we call on the relevant authorities to immediately drop criminal charges and release defenders such as Tito Magoti and Theodory Giyani and any others being prosecuted for peacefully exercising their rights. Suspensions and the freezing of assets of non-governmental organisations such as THRDC, independent media houses such as Kwanza Online TV, and members of the legal profession- particularly Fatma Karume, must be reversed.  Opposition parties must be allowed to freely and peacefully campaign and engage with their supporters without undue restrictions such as arbitrary arrests, physical attacks, forceful dispersal and intimidation of supporters, and harassment by security forces. The legitimacy of Tanzania’s elections is at stake.

    We call on Tanzania to heed the messages delivered by national, African, and international actors and to change course before the country enters a full-fledged human rights crisis, with potentially grave domestic and regional consequences.

    Signed:

    1. Access Now, Global
    2. Acción Solidaria on HIV/aids, Venezuela
    3. Africa Freedom of Information Centre 
    4. Africa Judges and Jurists Forum
    5. AfroLeadership
    6. ARTICLE 19, Global
    7. Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF), New Delhi and Kathmandu
    8. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
    9. Association of Freelance Journalists
    10. BudgIT Foundation, Nigeria
    11. CEALDES, Colombia
    12. Center for Civil Liberties, Ukraine
    13. Centre for Human Rights & Development (CHRD), Mongolia
    14. Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada
    15. Center for National and International Studies, Azerbaijan
    16. Child Watch, Tanzania
    17. CIVICUS, Global
    18. Civic Initiatives, Serbia
    19. CIVILIS Human Rights, Venezuela
    20. Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
    21. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
    22. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), South Sudan
    23. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
    24. Corporación Comuna Nueva, Santiago de Chile
    25. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    26. Democracy Monitor PU, Azerbaijan
    27. Eastern Africa Journalists Network (EAJN)
    28. Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO)
    29. Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Coalition (EHRDC)
    30. Espacio Público, Venezuela
    31. Front Line Defenders, Global
    32. Gestos (HIV and AIDS, communication, gender), Brazil
    33. Greenpeace Africa
    34. Groupe d’Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (GAPP-Afrique), Canada
    35. Groupe d’Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (GAPP-BENIN)
    36. Groupe d’Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (GAPP Mali)
    37. HAKI Africa, Kenya
    38. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE)
    39. Human Rights Defenders Network, Sierra Leone
    40. Humanium, Switzerland
    41. HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement (HuMENA Regional)
    42. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) - Belgium
    43. Jade Propuestas Sociales y Alternativas al Desarrollo, A.C. (JADESOCIALES)- México
    44. Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka-Burundi
    45. Maison de la Société Civile (MdSC), Bénin
    46. MARUAH, Singapore
    47. Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Nigeria
    48. Nigeria Network of NGOs, Nigeria 
    49. Nouvelle Dynamique de la Société Civile de la RD Congo (NDSCI)
    50. Odhikar, Bangladesh
    51. ONG Convergence des Actions Solidaires et les Objectifs de Développement Durable (CAS-ODD ONG) - Bénin
    52. ONG Nouvelle Vision (NOVI), Bénin
    53. Open School of Sustainable Development (Openshkola), Russia
    54. Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
    55. Partnership for Peace and Development, Sierra Leone
    56. RESOSIDE, Burkina Faso
    57. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Global
    58. Sisters of Charity Federation, United States
    59. Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Somalia
    60. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
    61. Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA), Sudan
    62. The Human Rights Centre Uganda (HRCU), Uganda
    63. Tournons La Page (TLP)
    64. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network, Sierra Leone
    65. Women in Democracy And Governance, Kenya (WIDAG)
    66. Zambia Council for Social Development, Zambia

    [1] United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner, UN Experts call on Tanzania to end the crackdown on civic space, July 22, 2020, available at https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26117&LangID=E.

    [2] Committee to Protect Journalists, Tanzania imposes 7-day publication ban on The Citizen, March 01, 2019, available at https://cpj.org/2019/03/tanzania-citizen-7-day-publication-ban/

    [3] Committee to Protect Journalists, Tanzanian authorities ban online TV station, fine 2 others, January 8, 2020, available at https://cpj.org/2020/01/tanzanian-authorities-ban-online-tv-station-fine-2/

    [4] Committee to Protect Journalists, Tanzania bans Kwanza Online TV for 11 months citing ‘misleading’ Instagram post on COVID-19, July 09, 2020, available at https://cpj.org/2020/07/tanzania-bans-kwanza-online-tv-for-11-months-citing-misleading-instagram-post-on-covid-19/

    [5] Committee to Protect Journalists, Tanzanian newspaper banned from publishing online for 6 months over COVID-19 report, May 11, 2020, available at https://cpj.org/2020/01/tanzanian-authorities-ban-online-tv-station-fine-2/

    [6] Committee to Protect Journalist, Tanzanian government revokes license of Tanzania Daima newspaper, June 26, 2020, available at https://cpj.org/2020/06/tanzanian-government-revokes-license-of-tanzania-daima-newspaper/

    [7] Committee to Protect Journalists, Tanzanian authorities ban online TV station, fine 2 others, January 8, 2020 available at https://cpj.org/2020/01/tanzanian-authorities-ban-online-tv-station-fine-2/

    [8]Committee to Protect Journalists, East Africa court rules that Tanzania’s Media Services Act violates press freedom, March 28, 2019, available at https://www.mediadefence.org/news/important-media-freedom-judgment-east-african-court-justice

    [9] We refer to cases such as the arrest of prominent comedian, Idris Sultan, in May 2020 (https://thrdc.or.tz/tanzanian-comedian-and-actor-mr-idris-sultan-charged-for-failure-to-register-a-sim-card/), and the disbarment from practicing law of prominent lawyer and human rights advocate, Fatma Karume (https://www.icj.org/tanzania-icj-calls-for-reinstatement-of-lawyer-fatma-karumes-right-to-practice-law/). 

    [10] Committee to protect journalists, Mwanachi, The Citizen, last seen in Tanzania, November 21, 2017, available at https://cpj.org/data/people/azory-gwanda/.

    [11] American Bar Association, Center for Human Rights, Tanzania: Preliminary Analysis of the criminal case against Tito Magoti and Theodory Giyani, July 28, 2020, available at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/human_rights/reports/tanzania--preliminary-analysis-of-the-criminal-case-against-tito/.

    [12] Committee to Protect Journalists, Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera freed but faces hefty fines, February 24, 2020, available at https://cpj.org/2020/02/tanzanian-freelancer-erick-kabendera-freed-but-fac/

    [13] Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Letter to President of Tanzania, Reference AL TZA 1/2020, January 31, 2020, available at https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=25049.

    [14] International Commission of Jurists, Tanzania: ICJ Calls for the reinstatement of lawyer Fatma Karume’s right to practice law, October 8, 2020, available at https://www.icj.org/tanzania-icj-calls-for-reinstatement-of-lawyer-fatma-karumes-right-to-practice-law/

    [15]The Citizen, Zitto Kabwe sentenced to serve one year ban not writing seditious statements, May 29, 2020, available at https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/news/Zitto-Kabwe-found-guilty-of-sedition/1840340-5567040-m7pifrz/index.htm

    [16] The cancellation of a training organised by Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), the subsequent arrest of THRDC’s Director, Onesmo Olengurumwa, and suspension of the activities of the organisation, as well as freezing of their accounts, exemplifies the misuse of these laws against civil society (See: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/tanzania-human-rights-group-suspends-operations/1945400)

    [17] DefendDefenders, Tanzania: Respect the right to freedom of association, August 24, 2020, available at https://defenddefenders.org/tanzania-respect-the-right-to-freedom-of-association/.

    [18] Two employees of one of THRDC were arrested in Dar es Salaam and thereafter authorities proceed to arbitrarily cancel the hosting of a three-day security training for 30 human rights defenders. The police claimed that the training was in contravention of the “laws of the land” but did not give a specific provision

    [19] These include the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations; Media Services Act; Cybercrimes Act; and Political Parties Amendment Act.

    [20] Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments Act (No. 3) of 2020)

    [21] Southern Africa Litigation Center, Joint letter, The Written Laws Miscellaneous Amendments Act no.3 ( 2020), available at https://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Honourable-Minister-of-Justice-for-the-Republic-of-Tanzania.pdf-August-2020.pdf

    [22] Section 7(b) of the Written Laws Amendments Act

    [23] The African Commission’s Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa provide that States must ensure through the adoption of national legislation that any individual, group of individuals or nongovernmental organization is entitled to bring a human rights claim before a judicial body for determination because such claims are matters of public concern.

    [24] Amendments to Chapter 310 of the Law Reform (Fatal accidents and miscellaneous provisions) Act and to the Chapter 3 of the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act

    [25]   See for example communication of the Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to the government of the United Republic of Tanzania, AL TZA 3/2020, 17 July 2020, https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=25442 

    [26] These include the verbal abuse and threats of execution against Zitto Kabwe, leader of Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) Wazalendo opposition party (see: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51355148), his conviction for sedition for statements he made at a press conference in relation to alleged extra judicial killings by state security forces (https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/news/Zitto-Kabwe-found-guilty-of-sedition/1840340-5567040-m7pifrz/index.html), and his re-arrested together with several party members while they participated in an internal meeting (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/24/tanzanian-opposition-leader-zitto-kabwe-released-on-bail/); as well as the conviction of nine Members of Parliament belonging to the opposition Chama Cha Demokrasia(CHADEMA) party and their sentencing in March 2020 to five months in prison or an alternative fine, for allegedly making seditious statements (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tanzania-politics/tanzanian-opposition-lawmakers-found-guilty-of-making-seditious-statements-idUSKBN20X2O8); and the attack against the party leader, Freeman Mbowe, by unknown assailants leaving him with a broken leg (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tanzania-politics/tanzanian-opposition-lawmakers-found-guilty-of-making-seditious-statements-idUSKBN20X2O8).

    [27] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Press statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the deteriorating human rights situation in Tanzania, available at https://www.achpr.org/pressrelease/detail?id=459.

    [28] Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “In her global human rights update, Bachelet calls for urgent action to heighten resilience and protect people's rights,” 14 September 2020, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26226&LangID=E

    [29] Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Two Kenyan Journalists convicted and fined in Tanzania, repatriated back to Kenya, May 21, 2020, available at https://thrdc.or.tz/blog/.

    [30]American Bar Association, Center for Human Rights, Report on the arbitrary suspension of Kwanza Online TV for sharing information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, October 22, 2020. See also Kwanza TV Instagram, available athttps://www.instagram.com/p/CCGT_5ECT_n/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

    [31] Disease pandemics and the freedom of opinion and expression, A/HRC/44/49, para. 30

    [32] The Guardian, Coronavirus pandemic is becoming a human rights crisis, UN warns, 23 April 2020, available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/23/coronavirus-pandemic-is-becoming-a-human-rights-crisis-un-warns. See also UNHRC,, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, States responses to Covid 19 threat should not halt freedoms of assembly and association, April 14, 2020, available at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25788&LangID=E.

    [33] BBC, Tanzania border village attack “leaves 20 dead”, October 16, 2020, available at https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-africa-47639452?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=5f896f00c4548e02bf3cb441%26Tanzania%20border%20village%20attack%20%27leaves%2020%20dead%27%262020-10-16T10%3A29%3A29.229Z&ns_fee=0&pinned_post_locator=urn:asset:2f81fc88-030c-49d4-9d25-b8268a2dbf55&pinned_post_asset_id=5f896f00c4548e02bf3cb441&pinned_post_type=share

     

  • TANZANIA: ‘Despite threats, we will not retreat from defending the rights of our communities’

    CIVICUS speaks to Joseph Ole Parsambei, Executive Director of the Tanzania Pastoralist Community Forum (TPCF), about the threats faced by environmental, land and indigenous rights activists in Tanzania. TPCF is non-partisan, not-for-profit civil society organisation (CSO) that advances the rights of Tanzania’s pastoralist peoples - the Maasai, the Barbaig, the Akie, the Taturu and the Hadzabe.

     

  • Tanzania: ‘People can’t say what they want to say’

    As part of our 2018 report on the theme of reimagining democracy, we are interviewing civil society activists and leaders about their work to promote democratic practices and principles, the challenges they encounter and the victories they score.CIVICUS speaks to two Tanzanian civil society workers, who have asked to remain anonymous, about recent restrictions imposed on the freedom of expression and ability to participate in democratic dissent by Tanzania’s President John Magafuli.

    1. Can you tell us about recent events that have affected the freedom of expression in Tanzania?Tanzani

    There is a crackdown. Laws recently passed - such as the new law on online content, which requires online platforms to apply for a licence and pay an annual fee - are hindering human rights. This new law has caused a popular blogging site, Jamil Forums, to close down. Exercising the freedom of expression has become very difficult. If you want to talk about anything related to the government, you risk getting into trouble.

    An example of this is what has happened to Twaweza, a civil society organisation (CSO). The head of Twaweza, Aidan Eyakuze, is now not allowed to travel outside Tanzania. This came after Twaweza published a survey suggesting that President Magafuli’s popularity rating had fallen sharply. A government body then contacted Twaweza and accused it of conducting a survey without a permit. Because Twaweza discussed the president and his rule, now he has got angry, and the organisation has been attacked. The government has since said it will change the law to make it mandatory to get government approval before publishing surveys and polls.

    Another recent example came after Akwilina Akwiline, a student, was killed. This happened during an attempt to hold a peaceful assembly by Chadema, an opposition party. Akwilina, who was not involved in the protest, was apparently killed by a stray police bullet. Following this, Abdul Nondo, a third-year student at the University of Dar Es Salaam, Chairperson of the Tanzania Students’ Networking Programme and a human rights defender, challenged the Minister of Home Affairs, Mwigulu Nchemba, over the killing. Abdul then informed his friends that he had received threatening phone calls from unknown people, telling him he must quit and if he did not do so, his life would be in danger. After a time he informed his friends that he had been captured by anonymous people and sent to the Iringa province in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands region. Following this, the police arrested Abdul and reprimanded him, accusing him of having ‘captured himself’, which caused controversy among many people in the country.

    People are living in fear. We say we have freedom in our country, but people do not have free expression because they feel intimidated. People can’t say what they want to say. The space is closing and it affects people in their daily lives.

    2. And what have the impacts been on civil society more generally?

    Human rights organisations are trying their best but they also find themselves in trouble. The government machinery - the police, the courts - are being used to repress them. They are being intimidated, including by being banned. It is different for organisations working on issues like education and health. They are fine. But once you work on human rights, or if you are a political party, you are challenged.

    The government has said it does not recognise the issues raised by human rights CSOs. For example, the president has said that if girls get pregnant while they are still at school, they should not go back to school again, as he has no schools for parents. Human rights CSOs have tried to advocate that pregnant girls and young mothers should be allowed to go to school as it is a human right for everyone to receive an education no matter what, but arguments based on human rights grounds have been rejected.

    If civil society is going to be prohibited from publishing survey statistics freely, as is now being threatened, then much grassroots work in trying to understand the prevalence, drivers and possible solutions to problems is going to be not used or not done in the first place. This would be a real shame, especially as the potential to collect and use data for social good is becoming more and more accessible to grassroots organisations.

    At the same time, some people do support the president, and citizens who support the president may challenge opposition parties. This means that CSOs that criticise the president and the ruling party may be branded as part of the opposition.

    3. What do you think motivates these attacks?

    This is happening because of the nature of Tanzania’s leadership. People in the ruling party fear that if they are criticised and people are aware of their failings, they can be removed from power. They want citizens and the community to be blind to what is taking place in the government.

    This has worsened compared to previous times. Under former presidents, for example, opposition parties were much more able to make criticisms as part of the democratic process. There is less of this happening now, and people do so in a more muted way.

    4. How can civil society respond, and what further support does it need to respond?

    In response civil society has to invest more in education at the grassroots in raising awareness about human rights. Sometimes people do not know that their rights are being violated.

    Civil society also needs tools that help it reach people at the grassroots. There need to be stronger links between CSOs and citizens at the grassroots. Human rights organisations need to do more work outside the capital city.

    There also needs to be more support for civil society through international human rights networks.

    Civil society needs to be supported with competent legal aid, and training to support its work on human rights, as well as help to resist being intimidated. Civil society needs to find more ways of approaching government machinery and knowledge about different ways to navigate the system.

    Civic space in Tanzania is rated as ‘obstructed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • TANZANIA: ‘The government is trying to silence those who are against the pipeline’

    Baraka LengaCIVICUS speaks about the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project and its potential impacts on the climate and on the health and livelihoods of local communities with Tanzanian climate justice activist Baraka Lenga.

    Baraka is a young climate scientist and sustainability consultant, currently volunteering with Fridays for Future to raise awareness of climate change and pressuring businesses and government leaders to act urgently to address the climate crisis.

    What is EACOP, and what is wrong with it?

    EACOP is a massive crude oil pipeline that will involve the transportation of crude oil from Hoima in Uganda to a Tanzanian port located in Chongoleani village, in Tanga region. It will cover 1,445 kilometres in Uganda and Tanzania, but 80 per cent of the land it will go through is in Tanzania.

    Local communities depend on land as the crucial resource to support their livelihoods, which consist mostly of farming and livestock keeping, so if their land is taken or ruined by the pipeline, they will be seriously affected. The project is therefore going to affect the development of many communities and impact negatively on any effort to create a sustainable and liveable local environment.

    But EACOP will not only affect people; it will also pose a threat to the animals that depend on the land that will be taken up by this project.

    Further, it has been estimated that once operational the project will emit 34 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This means it will amplify climate change and local communities will become poorer, more vulnerable and less resilient.

    How has civil society organised to resist this project?

    Very unfortunately, in my country, Tanzania, most civil society organisations (CSOs) are not organising against EACOP. One contributing factor may be the limited understanding of the pipeline project in Tanzania. Little information has been shared about the project and the consequences it will have on communities, contributing to Tanzanian civil society’s limited response.

    I have been working in my capacity as a freelance activist to raise awareness about the pipeline’s consequences and explaining why it needs to be stopped. I find it crucial for local communities to know and understand the extent to which EACOP could damage their environment and impact on their lives. Fortunately, I have been receiving support from colleagues from various parts of Africa who are using their resources to amplify our voices against EACOP.

    How has the government reacted so far?

    As most activists and CSOs have noticed, the government is trying to silence those who are against the pipeline. Some of us have raised our concerns since the very beginning of the project but our questions have not been addressed and the project has continued regardless.

    But we have continued campaigning because we cannot overlook the damage this project will have on local communities; it comes with a lot of investment that is allegedly meant to develop East African nations but in reality is going to bring more harm to innocent lives.

    What kind of support does the anti-pipeline movement need from international civil society and the wider international community?

    We would like environmental activists and CSOs from across the globe to join us in raising awareness about EACOP and pressuring the governments involved to put an end to this project. We want people to understand that the companies leading the project, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and TotalEnergies – along with the governments of Tanzania and Uganda, which have brought in both countries’ national oil companies into the project – are endangering wildlife, tipping the world closer to a climate crisis and affecting the livelihoods of our people.

    We have seen various multinational cooperation funds pull out of the project in compliance with their obligation to protect the environment and we hope more will do the same. Hopefully, a lack of funding will ultimately force the governments of Tanzania and Uganda to stop EACOP. 

    Civic space in Tanzania is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Follow@lenga2020 on Twitter.

     

  • TANZANIA: ‘The human rights of the Maasai people are violated through involuntary assimilation and relocation’

    Josef_Moses_Oleshangay.jpgCIVICUS speaks about the unlawful eviction of Maasai people from their ancestral lands with Joseph Moses Oleshangay, a Tanzanian human rights lawyer and activist for democracy and Indigenous peoples’ land rights. Joseph is currently working with the Legal and Human Rights Centre to raise awareness of human rights violations and promote good governance in Tanzania.

    Why are Maasai people being evicted from their land in Tanzania?

    The Maasai eviction is largely caused by the government’s lust for money. The tourism and hunting business promises to bring a lot of capital, and unfortunately, that can only happen if the Maasai are removed from their native land. The government is currently planning to evict Maasai people living in Loliondo and Ngorongoro to establish a game-controlled area in Loliondo and potentially change the status of a conservation area in Ngorongoro to a game reserve.

    The government has proposed to establish game reserves in every single district ancestrally occupied by Maasai communities. The way this project is being carried out is unethical and threatens many lives and the cultural survival of the Maasai.

    Sadly, to gain public support and trust the government has created a narrative that this is a nature conservation project. But it has been scientifically proved that Maasai pastoralism is compatible with environmental and wildlife conservation. While the government generally accuses the Maasai as threatening tourism in Ngorongoro, 70 per cent of tourists in Tanzania in 2019 visited Ngorongoro, with the remaining 22 national parks and game reserves attracting only 30 per cent of the tourist inflow. Ngorongoro also contributes 52 per cent of the earnings from tourism. It is the only conservation area in Tanzania where humans – Maasai – are legally allowed to coexist with wildlife. As well as being by far the best tourism destination in Tanzania, it has the highest wildlife population density in the world. This shows that the government’s claim that the Maasai are threatening wildlife conservation and tourism is a completely false narrative.

    In Ngorongoro over 80,000 people are facing the threat of eviction, which the government justifies by claiming the population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the land. But according to the latest census, Ngorongoro has a human population density of 10 people per square kilometre, compared to a national average of 60.

    The tourism industrial complex is pushing the government to forcefully evict Maasai people from their land because they think the Maasai don’t add value to the business and will disrupt the activities they want to undertake in Loliondo, Ngorongoro and the neighbouring Serengeti National Park. The authorities know that wildlife massacre, one of the key businesses planned, won’t be possible under the Maasai’s watch and their pastoralism livelihoods will not fit the overall hunting and hotel aesthetic they are trying to create.

    The government has an obligation to take care of the environment and ensure the safety of all who live in it. If Maasai people are allowed to stay in the newly created game reserves, they will witness wildlife massacre and will inevitably suffer harm. The government cannot risk this being exposed.

    So without consulting with the Maasai community, the government has started its eviction plan in a manner that will force their integration with the majority community in the coastal region. To facilitate relocation, on 31 March the government withdrew all funds previously allocated to health, education and other key services. In 2021 the government threatened to demolish nine government primary schools and six health centres. In April 2022 the government’s chief spokesperson recognised that life-saving services were prolonging the Maasai presence in the Ngorongoro so there was a need to dismantle them.

    What human rights violations have been reported?

    Many human rights violations have been reported, and they are reaching a level we had not seen since our independence. They are more brutal than what our people experienced in the colonial era. Never before has our country witnessed a campaign targeting a specific community as we are now seeing in Ngorongoro. The Maasai are being portrayed as primitive people whose ancestral land is elsewhere, and the president has said they are new arrivals in Tanzania, so in case of a forceful relocation, the authorities can claim the Maasai have no attachment to Ngorongoro.

    In early June, the authorities installed beacons in the place destined to become a game-controlled area, against Tanzanian law and in violation of an order issued by the East Africa Court of Justice in 2018. In 2017 a Maasai representative filed a complaint at the Tanzanian Human Rights and Good Governance Commission against the planned eviction and submitted a case to the East Africa Court of Justice seeking intervention against violent operations that ended with at least 349 Maasai homesteads being set ablaze.

    Despite the temporary orders issued by the Court directing the government to halt relocation pending a final decision on the case, on 17 June 2022, just five days before the date set for delivery of a judgment, the government declared the contested land as a game-controlled area. Surprisingly, four days later the Court issued a notice that the decision would be delayed until September, giving the government leeway in executing atrocities in Loliondo.

    The demarcated area includes not only village land, which is forbidden by the law, but also people’s homesteads. The police have used teargas and guns, wounding 31 Maasai people. Before beacons were installed, all elected political leaders were arrested and detained incommunicado for seven days before being arraigned in court on murder charges – for a murder that happened one day after they were arrested.

    There are currently 27 Maasai people charged with murder and over 80 detained under the accusation of being unlawful immigrants. Some have been subjected to torture. Over 2,000 people have reportedly crossed the border with Kenya for security reasons.

    Since June, Maasai livestock have been killed or impounded by security forces and a large-scale operation is ongoing to silence anyone who speak against the situation in Ngorongoro and Loliondo.

    How will this eviction affect Maasai people?

    To understand how Maasai people will be impacted upon, one needs to understand who the Maasai are. They are a semi-nomadic pastoral people who move from one place to another in search of their livelihood. They have lived alongside wildlife for centuries and know how to preserve their environment. They have established their cultural practices and spiritual sites that define them as a distinct society.

    Relocation will disturb their culture. There is a place called Oldoinyo Lenkai (‘Mountain of God’) where the Maasai believe their god lives and usually conduct sacrifices during times of scarcity and crisis. If this land becomes a conservation area with restricted access their right to spirituality will be taken away. Ultimately, relocation has a strong chance of leading to their extinction as a people.

    One of the government’s justifications of the relocation process is what they call the need for forced civilisation of the Maasai people, who would have a better life if they coexisted with people from different backgrounds. But this will force them to adopt a culture that is not their own. Involuntary assimilation and relocation are the greatest human rights violations and generally fall under the accepted meaning of genocide under the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.

    How are civil society activists and organisations fighting back?

    We are fighting this in many ways. We are challenging the government by debunking its narrative. The government is spreading propaganda to get public support, so what we do is inform people about the dangers of these evictions and that they are founded on false narratives. We also use our various platforms to highlight that the Maasai add value to both nature conservation and tourism, providing accurate information to counter false claims.

    We also have filed a court case against eviction. The law is one of the strongest tools we are using in fighting injustice in this battle. We can use the law to hold the government accountable and demand it halts the planned eviction. We are trying to make sure that the truth about what is happening is known not only internally but also by the international community.

    We have been fortunate enough to have regional and international organisations such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and United Nations human rights experts publicly condemn the actions of the Tanzanian government and urge it to stop unlawful evictions.

    But we have faced challenges, including the lack of functional legal processes in Tanzania. The 2018 court order requiring a halt to the operations have not been respected. Our government thinks it is above the law and this is affecting our progress in fighting the eviction. As activists our lives are in danger. The government threatens us and many activists had fled the country for safety.

    What kind of assistance do you need from international civil society?

    We need international organisations and activists to help us expose what is happening in Tanzania, because if this is known about internationally the government might be pressured to do better. International allies should use their platforms to highlight the gruesome violations of rights experienced by the Maasai people and keep people informed about our activities.

    Civic space in Tanzania is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Follow@Oleshangay on Twitter.

     

  • TANZANIA: ‘The new administration is committed to ending discriminatory policies that undermine girls’ rights’

    PrudenceMutisoCIVICUS speaks with Prudence Mutiso, Legal Adviser at the Center for Reproductive Rights-Africa about the Tanzanian government’s policy on pregnant and married girls in schools.

    Founded in 1992, the Center for Reproductive Rights is a global human rights organisation of lawyers and advocates seeking to ensure the protection of reproductive rights as basic human rights fundamental to the dignity, equality, health and wellbeing of every person.

    The Center works across five continents and has played a critical role in securing legal victories on reproductive rights issues, including access to life-saving obstetrics care, contraception, maternal health and safe abortion services, as well as the prevention of forced sterilisation and child marriage, in national courts, United Nations’ committees and regional human rights bodies.

     

Page 1 sur 2