Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2009 - Tanzania

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 18 June 2009
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2009 - Tanzania, 18 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a5f301023.html [accessed 25 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Political context

In 2008, President Jakaya Kikwete, following strong and continuous public pressure, took action against corruption, one of the major issues in the country. In January, the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, the late Mr. Daudi Balali, was sacked following an audit revealing losses through fraudulent transactions relating to external payment arrears on the account of the Central Bank of Tanzania (BOT). Moreover, on February 7, after a report of the Special Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry revealed a number of irregularities in the procurement process in respect of emergency power supply in Tanzania, the former Prime Minister, Mr. Edward Lowassa, as well as former and current Ministers for Energy at the time, Messrs. Ibrahimu Msabaha1 and Nazir Karamagi respectively, resigned after being indicted for those irregularities. Corruption within police forces was also seen as a factor contributing to mob violence, together with delay in investigation and judicial proceedings, economic hardship, lack of knowledge of judicial proceedings, public resources being in the hands of a few and corrupt figures, and revenge.2

In Zanzibar, the political situation has remained tense since the general elections in 2005. "Mwafaka"3 talks ended on April 1, 2008 without reaching a consensus on power sharing between the ruling political party "Chama Cha Mapinduzi" (CCM) and the opposition Civic United Front (CUF). In addition, the regulation of NGOs matters is not part of the Union's matters,4 meaning that Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar have separate laws on this matter. As a consequence, NGOs registered in Tanzania mainland under the NGO Act (2002) cannot legally operate in Tanzania Zanzibar and vice versa. NGOs consider this situation as a potential obstacle to freedom of association.

Harassment of journalists denouncing corruption

Despite the efforts carried out by President Kikwete against corruption and the adoption of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act in 2007, journalists denouncing corruption of Government officials continued in 2008 to be intimidated. It is also to be noted that Section 37(1) of this Act prevents the media and individuals from reporting alleged offences under investigation by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).5 For instance, on January 5, 2008, Mr. Saed Kubenea, journalist, Editor and Managing Director of the Swahili weekly investigative newspaper Mwana HALISI, and Mr. Ndimara Tegambwage, a veteran journalist for the media house "Habari Cooperation", were assaulted in the office of the newspaper in Dar es Salaam. This attack is believed to be linked with reports published throughout 2007 by the two journalists and that implicated senior Government officials. Indeed, the newspaper reported on several corruption scandals related to agreements made between the Government and foreign companies and the misuse of public funds through illegal public procurement procedure, such as for instance the engagement of the Richmond Company for emergency supply of electricity in Tanzania between 2007 and 2008. Mr. Kubenea filed a complaint but, by the end of the year, there had been no investigation into the assault. Subsequently, Mr. Kubenea received several death threats on his mobile phone asking him to stop reporting investigative stories about public leaders and the misuse of funds. As of the end of 2008, his case was still pending in court.6

Arbitrary arrest of economic, social and cultural rights defenders, in particular land rights defenders

Despite the fact that incidents against human rights defenders were scarce in 2008, the latter continued to be perceived as a threat to the Government rather than an active player for the improvement of the human rights situation in the country. In particular, human rights defenders and village leaders who were providing information on land rights and fighting against forced evictions in communities were subjected in 2008 to fallacious judicial proceedings designed to hinder their activities. These proceedings intimidated other villagers from coming forth for their rights. For instance, in April 2008, Mr. Ibrahim Koroso, a community leader and a member of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) in Serengeti district, who has been involved in judicial cases against Government officials in relation to forced eviction cases, was arrested on the allegation of "unlawful possession of goods" contrary to the provisions of the Wildlife Conservation Act. He was denied both police bond and court bail. His case was lodged at Serengeti District Court and he was sent to Mugumu prison. The intervention of human rights activists including LHRC members facilitated his release on bail on May 7, 2008. Ultimately, in November 2008, Mr. Koroso's charges were dropped by the Government and he was acquitted for lack of evidence. Since 2000, when M. Koroso started to act as a representative for 134 families from his village in a case against the then District Commissioner and Officer Command of District (OCD-Police) concerning forced evictions related to the expansion of Ikongoro Game Reserve,7 he has been arrested several times and released each time due to lack of evidence. It is to be noted that his arrests often coincided with the times when he was due to appear before the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance. This was also the case in April as he was to testify in the same case before the Court of Appeal of Tanzania.8


1 Mr. Ibrahim Msabaha was Minister for Energy in 2006. He then became Minister for East African Cooperation.

2 See East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project Report, The situation of Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa, Report to the Forum on the participation of NGOs at the 44th Session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) and Southern African Human Rights NGO Network (SAHRi NGON), Tanzania Chapter, November 2008.

3 "Mwafaka" is a Swahili term that refers to political agreement.

4 The United Republic of Tanzania is the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

5 See the Coalition for Advocacy for Freedom of Information and Expression, which includes the Media Council of Tanzania, Media Owners Association, Tanzania Media Women's Association, the Legal and Human Rights Centre, Tanzania Gender Network Programme and the Tanganyika Law Society.

6 See Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC).

7 In 2001, Mr. Koroso lodged a complaint before the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, to which LHRC provided legal representation. The Commission ordered in December 2004 adequate and fair compensation to the villagers for their properties that were destroyed. It also called upon the Government to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to the people to restore them back to their normal life. Despite the fact that the evictions were considered illegal, the Government refused in 2005 to adhere to the Commission's recommendations.

8 See LHRC.

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