Category

Tanzania

Update on the Tanzanian arrests

By | News, Tanzania | No Comments

An update on the situation in Tanzania following the arrest of 13 activists. PAI is outraged at the lack of response to international pressure to release the 13, and we will continue to agitate for the rights of the detainees. You can help by signing the petition and sending the emails to be found in our last post on the situation.

27 October 2017
JOHANNESBURG

PRESS STATEMENT
The Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa confirms that three of its lawyers who were arrested in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania on Tuesday 17 October 2017, and placed in unlawful detention from Friday 20 October 2017, were deported earlier this evening from Tanzania. It bears emphasis that no criminal charges were brought against them from the date of their arrest.

The remaining 9 are still being detained.

ISSUED BY ISLA

Tanzania arrests and detains 13 more activists on trumped up charges of ‘promoting homosexuality’! – Reprisals for Challenging the Government

By | News, Tanzania | No Comments

The government of Tanzania continued its clampdown on civil society and its affront to the rule of law, as thirteen activists were arrested on Tuesday, 17th October and charged with ‘promoting homosexuality’. These arbitrary arrests follow the arrest of 20 people on the 15th September in the Zanzibar territory, signalling a pattern on the part of Tanzanian government agents of violating the rights of its citizens on suspicion of homosexuality by illegally arresting, detaining and mistreating them. The group included local activists and lawyers who were attending a litigation strategy meeting to challenge Tanzania’s ban of the supply of HIV/AIDS prevention materials.

In a statement to MambaOnline, Amelia Motsepe, a representative for the Johannesburg-based Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), explained that two members of the group are South African, including Sibongile Ndashe, ISLA’s Executive Director. In her interview with MambaOnline, Motsepe said, “We do fear for their safety. We are not even sure in which police station they are.” Motsepe further denounced these arrests for being “irregular”, “malicious” and said that the offence of ‘promoting homosexuality’ does not exist in any statute in Tanzania.

MambaOnline goes on to report that the government is threatening to perform forced anal examinations on the detainees. These examinations have been used before in Tanzania and other countries in Africa, and are not only a flagrant violation of human rights, but are a form of torture. The Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) has explained that “Anal examinations to ‘detect homosexuality’ have no scientific value, are unethical, and constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and possibly torture. Sexual identity and orientation is not a disease or a crime and health professionals have no business diagnosing it or aiding State officials in policing and punishing people on the basis of their sexuality”. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) joins the IFEG in condemning this cruel, inhuman and degrading practice as unethical and a clear violation of the UN Convention against Torture which Tanzania has ratified.

“The right for human rights defenders (HRDs) to promote, and protect human rights include the right to complain about and criticise the policies and actions of the government and its agents. Tanzania’s arrest and ill-treatment of HRDs for doing their job is an act of tyranny and a violation of fundamental rights and freedoms,” says Monica Tabengwa, Director of Pan Africa ILGA,

Pan Africa ILGA condemns these actions in the strongest terms and calls on organisations to join us in compelling the Tanzanian government to:

  • Immediately cease any plans to perform anal examinations on the arrested.
  • Immediately release those detained.
  • Uphold its constitution and the international treaties it is a signatory to by ceasing its unlawful arrest of its citizens on suspicion of homosexuality or incitement of homosexuality.

We call on all our members and human rights organisations to:

  • Sign the petition.
  • Sign and send the letter below to put pressure on the Tanzanian Government.

 

For more information on the current situation, the press statement released by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa and the Community Health Services and Advocacy group:

PRESS STATEMENT by ISLA and CHESA 
Dar-es-Salaam, 20 October 2016 – On Tuesday, 17 October 2017, a legal consultation convened by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA) was raided by the Tanzanian Police. The consultation was convened in order to get more instructions and evidence on a case that we plan to file before a court. The case concerns a challenge to government’s decision to limit the provision of certain health services that it had previously provided.

Thirteen people were detained and released on bail with no charges made. On Wednesday, the Regional Commissioner of police issued a press statement, referring to the “arrests” and stated that twelve people who were promoting homosexuality had been arrested. This mischaracterisation of a legal consultation where lawyers and their clients were discussing a very specific case to be referred to the court is unfortunate. The police had a copy of the concept note and the agenda of the consultation. Three lawyers were part of the group that was detained include ISLA’s executive director, Sibongile Ndashe. The bail was revoked on Friday 20 October 2017 with the view of starting the investigation afresh. All thirteen people are back in custody.

The Tanzanian Constitution enshrines the right to seek legal redress when fundamental rights have been violated (Art 30(3)). The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights, which Tanzania is a signatory to, also recognises an individual’s right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts violating his fundamental rights as recognised and guaranteed by conventions, laws and customs in force (Art 7(a)). Tanzania is a signatory to a number of international human rights treaties that recognizes these and other related rights.

We view this as an attempt to intimidate citizens from approaching judicial institutions when their rights have been violated, to create an environment where lawyers are afraid to provide legal representation and to ultimately create an environment where it is unthinkable to hold the state accountable for human rights violations. There is no legal basis for these proceedings. We call upon Tanzanian authorities to discontinue the ongoing persecution of lawyers and their clients. Allow citizens to access legal representation without intimidation and allow the foreign nationals whose passports have been seized to leave the country.

Issued by CHESA and ISLA

 

 

To show your support, please add your logo, signature and name at the bottom of the following letter, and send to the following authorities. Feel free to adapt, as you deem appropriate.

 

October 23, 2017

To the Hon. George Mcheche Masaju

Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania

Email: g.masaju@bunge.go.tz; ag@agctz.go.tz

 

To the Hon. Bahame T.M. Nyanduga

Chairperson, Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance

United Republic of Tanzania

Email: bahame.nyanduga@chragg.go.tz

 

To the Hon. Adv. Pansy Tlakula

Chairperson, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Email: pansy.tlakula@gmail.com

 

To the Hon. Soyata Maiga

Vice- Chairperson, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Email: cabinetsoya@afribone.net.ml; soyatam@yahoo.fr

 

To the Hon. Solomon Ayele Dersso

Commissioner, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Email: Solomon.dersson@gmail.com

 

Your Excellencies,

We are writing regarding the recent arrests of thirteen persons, including three lawyers and their clients that were recently carried out by the Tanzanian Police.

On Tuesday, 17 October 2017, a legal consultation convened by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and the Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA) was raided by the Tanzanian Police. The consultation was convened in order to get more instructions and evidence on a case that the two organizations planned to file before a court concerning a challenge to government’s decision to limit the provision of certain health services that it had previously provided.

Thirteen people, including two South African citizens, one Ugandan citizen, were detained. Among the arrested persons are ISLA’s executive director, Sibongile Ndashe, and CHESA’s director, John Kashiha. No one was charged but all were granted bail.

On Wednesday, the Regional Commissioner of police issued a press statement referring to the “arrests” and stated that twelve people who were promoting homosexuality had been arrested. On Friday 20 October 2017, the bail was revoked for everyone for no reason. They were advised that a fresh investigation process was starting and everyone was taken to custody.

The mischaracterization of a legal consultation where lawyers and their clients were discussing a very specific case to be referred to the court as “promotion of homosexuality” is unfortunate and concerning. The police had a copy of the concept note and the agenda of the consultation.

Even more alarming is that three lawyers who were part of the group, including Sibongile Ndashe, were arrested together with their clients.

The Tanzanian Constitution enshrines the right to seek legal redress when fundamental rights have been violated (Art 30(3)). The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights, which Tanzania is a signatory to, also recognizes an individual’s right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts violating his fundamental rights as recognized and guaranteed by conventions, laws and customs in force (Art 7(a)). Tanzania is a signatory to a number of international human rights treaties that recognizes these and other related rights.

The arrest of the thirteen people mentioned above is an attempt to intimidate citizens from approaching judicial institutions when their rights have been violated. Furthermore, the arrest of lawyers while they are advising their clients on the steps to be taken to seek legal redress is clearly aimed at creating an environment where lawyers are afraid to provide legal representation and to ultimately create an environment where it is unthinkable to hold the state accountable for human rights violations.

We are strongly convinced that there is no legal basis for these proceedings, as demonstrated by the press statement released by the Regional Commissioner of police, and that the arrests are arbitrary and politically motivated.

Therefore, we call upon Tanzanian authorities to immediately release the thirteen individuals who are currently arbitrarily detained; to allow citizens to access legal representation without intimidation; to discontinue the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders, lawyers and their clients and refrain from such future actions; and to allow the foreign nationals, whose passports have been seized, to leave the country.

Sincerely,

[name and signature]