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Tanzania

Update on the Tanzanian arrests

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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

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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]

The Right to Freedom of Association Under Threat – 20 Arrested in Tanzania for Alleged Homosexuality

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JOINT PRESS STATEMENT

THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION UNDER THREAT: 20 ARRESTED IN TANZANIA FOR ALLEGED HOMOSEXUALITY

20 September 2017

 

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Association (Pan Africa ILGA) strongly condemn the recent arrest of parents and NGO personnel at a training workshop on HIV prevention.

On Friday 15 September 2017, Zanzibari police, acting on the orders of the District Commissioner, arrested a group of twenty parents, local partners and staff of an implementing NGO for organising and attending a workshop on peer-to-peer parent HIV and AIDS prevention. The workshop was aimed at addressing stigma and discrimination in the family with regards to HIV and AIDS. According to a local NGO leader, the group was accused of “training people on homosexuality”, which is not a crime in any known law in operation in Tanzania.

While Section 150-154 and Section 158 of the Tanzanian Penal Code prohibits same-sex conduct, and makes it punishable with up to 14 years in jail, homosexuality, as such (and being a homosexual) is not a crime in Zanzibar.

The meeting was led by Bridge Initiative Organization (BIO). Of the arrested, 14 were parents, 3 BIO staff and 3 local partners. All except two staff members of BIO have been released without being charged. The arrest followed by release is indicative of arbitrariness and abuse of power. The Centre for Human Rights and Pan Africa ILGA strongly condemn this action by Zanzibari police.

These arrests are part of a recent pattern in mainland Tanzania. In December 2016, a meeting organised by Open Society Initiatives for Eastern Africa on reproductive rights, was raided in Dar-es-Salaam with eight people detained and released without charges. Offices belonging to organisations working on LGBTI issues were also unlawfully raided and documents from these offices confiscated in Dar-es-Salaam in the same year.

The Constitutions of both Tanzania and Zanzibar, in Article 18 (in both cases), provide that everyone has the right to seek, receive, and impart information. Article 20 of both Constitutions further provides every person with the right to peacefully assemble, associate, and cooperate with other persons. Tanzania (which under international law has the power to ratify international treaties as the government of United Republic of Tanzania, including Zanzibar) is also party to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which states in Article 9 and Article 10 that every person has the right to receive information, express themselves, and to disseminate information; and that every individual shall have the right to free association. African Commission Resolution 275, Resolution on Protection Against Violence and other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, expressly condemns the arbitrary arrest of persons. It also calls on state parties to ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals or criminal prosecution. The actions of the Tanzanian and Zanzibari government are thus in contravention of both the African Charter and the Constitution. This pattern of violation of the freedom of association is rife in the country.

Same-sex conduct may be illegal in Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania, but sexual orientation and gender identity minorities, or those perceived to be so, maintain the right of access to information and education on HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. HIV and AIDS affects everyone, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and there should be no discriminatory treatment against whomever imparts or receives life-saving health information on HIV and AIDS. NGO workers have the right to impart knowledge on HIV and AIDS.

Earlier this year, the government banned many private health clinics from providing HIV/AIDS-related services, and in July 2016 banned the import and sale of sexual lubricants, citing that these promoted and encouraged same-sex sexual conduct.

Tanzania’s response to HIV/AIDS is guided by the Multi-Sectoral Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2013-17, which recognises men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and transgender persons as key populations who are disproportionately affected and impacted by the epidemic. The national frameworks provide, amongst others, health services prioritising key populations in order to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The Centre for Human Rights and Pan Africa ILGA strongly condemn this action by Zanzibari police. The Centre for Human Rights and Pan Africa ILGA are two African regional human rights organisations that work to eliminate stigma and discrimination based on a person’s perceived or real sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. We stand in solidarity with all work around HIV and AIDS that addresses stigma and discrimination as part of fighting a winning battle towards the total elimination of HIV and AIDS in Africa. We demand an Africa free from discrimination and violence against persons based on any real or imputed notion of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE).

We are extremely concerned about the developing pattern of arrests on grounds of homosexuality which has occurred in Tanzania and in other countries on the continent. Over forty men were arrested in Nigeria in August for “engaging in homosexuality”. These arrests do not only impact the lives of the LGBTI community, but prevention and treatment efforts of HIV/AIDS in general.

The Centre for Human Rights and Pan Africa ILGA call on the governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar to:

  • Unconditionally release the two NGO staff members who are still in police custody.
  • Immediately stop the continued harassment of sexual minorities and those perceived to be so, their organisations, and partner organisations that support work around key populations and HIV/AIDS.
  • Stop the harassment of NGO and private sector personnel working in the area of HIV prevention and treatment among key populations including MSM.
  • Respect its Constitution and international human rights standards, especially the right to equality and non-discrimination.

We call on all African states and human rights organisations to protect and fulfill human rights without any distinction including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and for law enforcement agents to exercise due diligence in investigation and punishment of the perpetrators of human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

Joint statement released by the Centre for Human Rights and Pan Africa ILGA.

 

For more information, please contact:

Geoffrey Ogwaro
Manager: SOGIE Unit
Centre for Human Rights
Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 5449
geoffrey.ogwaro@up.ac.za
www.chr.up.ac.za

Germaine de Larch
Communications & Membership Officer
Pan Africa ILGA
Tel: +27 11 339 1473
germaine.delarch@panafricailga.org
www.panafricailga.org

 

Press Release: LGBTI Lives Under Threat as Tanzania Bans Distribution of Lubricant!

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LGBTI Lives Under Threat as Tanzania Bans Distribution of Lubricant!

Johannesburg, August 11, 2016

 

Tanzania is seeing a fresh wave of homophobia since June 28, 2016, following a television interview on HIV prevention, where a trans-woman discussed health care programming for populations most at risk of HIV. The Dar Es Salaam Regional Commissioner reacted negatively, publicly referring to LGBTI people as illegal and calling for their arrest. The public call by the Regional Commissioner was also followed by the publication of pictures and names of suspected LGBTI people in a local tabloid. According to The Citizen, The Tanzania Ministry of Health subsequently called for a ban on lubricants, a safer sex commodity, as these are seen to encourage homosexuality.

People suspected or perceived to be lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex(LGBTI) have, subsequent to this public reaction, been subjected to police harassment, violence and discrimination in the ensuing backlash in an attempt to “clean the country”. “This desperate and dangerous approach by the Ministry of Health will only act to weaken the HIV response and public health in general as research have shown that lubricants are not used by MSM only. There is already an increase in public violence against sexual and gender minorities, with cases of mob violence and police harassment being reported” said Star Rugori, board member for Pan Africa ILGA.

In another statement released 11th August 2016 by released today by Deputy Minister of Health, Social Development, Gender, Ageing and Children, Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla, the government of Tanzania has declared an ultimatum on a local LGBTI civil society organization to present themselves to the offices of the Deputy Minister by 12 August 2016, amidst claims of “promoting homosexuality”. The organization has been demanded to release organizational documents and information such as its constitution, projects, beneficiaries, donors and partners.  “This level of intimidation and harassment of = LGBTI groups by the government of Tanzania is unacceptable and is an infringement on the right to freedom of assembly, the right to privacy and contributes only to the shrinking of civil society space in that country” said Ms. Monica Tabengwa, Executive Director of PAI.

Since the ban on lubricants some three weeks back, it is reported that at least 293 cases of key populations have stopped seeking health care and defaulted on their ART regimens, while a 15% drop in condom usage has also been noted by local groups. The country also continues to see an increase in rights violations of LGBTI people.

Tanzania Penal Code criminalizes same-sex conduct under laws inherited from colonization with a penalty of life imprisonment. Although there are no state laws protecting key populations from discrimination and other human rights violations the Tanzanian government has promised that key populations will not be discriminated against in accessing health services.

According to a UNAIDS Gap Report of 2014, 1.4 million people in Tanzania are living with HIV. Tanzania’s response to HIV/ AIDS is guided by the Multi-Sectoral Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2013-17 which recognizes MSM, sex workers and transgender persons as key populations who are disproportionately affected and impacted by the epidemic. The national frameworks provide, amongst others, prioritizing health services to key populations in order to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Moreover, Tanzania has been host to the biennial African Conference on Key Populations since 2013 with the full support of the Ministry of Health, the National AIDS Control Programme and the Tanzania Commission for AIDS. This conference brings together key populations and health service providers across Africa in order to build partnerships between those working on addressing HIV and its impact on key populations. Accordingly, Tanzania’s response to ban the distribution of lubricants is in direct contravention of its Multi-Sectoral Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS (2013-2017) for HIV prevention and all its other commitments to include all key populations in the HIV prevention strategy.

Pan Africa ILGA (PAI) is concerned that the violence, harassment and threats of arrest, combined with the existing criminalization will likely drive these populations back into hiding where they are not able to access the services needed to prevent further spread of the disease. “For a country which had made admirable strides in reducing the rate of HIV infections, it appears as if Tanzania has taken a giant leap back. Excluding MSM, transgender and other sexual minorities in the HIV prevention response is counter-productive”, said Mr. Rugori.

PAI further condemns the course of action taken by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health because it impedes civil society organizations’ work with key populations and incites violence against anyone perceived to be homosexual. PAI calls on the government of Tanzania to honor her commitment to her own national strategic framework for HIV/AIDS and lift the ban on lubricant distribution. PAI further urges Tanzania to ensure equal protection of the law to all and prosecute those who perpetuate human rights violations based on actual, perceived or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity.

For further enquiries please contact PAI secretariat in Johannesburg: Monica Tabengwa, Tel:+27 767 958 245  email: monica@panafricailga.org, twitter: @panafricailga, @tabengm  or PAI board in East Africa: Richard Lusimbo, Tel +256 782 612972 email: rlusimbo@gmail.com , twitter: @richardlusimbo

 

The Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (PAI) is a federation of organizations in Africa working to improve human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity expression (SOGI).

Press release by the Pan Africa ILGA Board.