Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.

  • Population:
    – total: 32,793,000
    – under-18s: 17,204,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 34,000
    – paramilitary: 1,400
  • Compulsory recruitment age: upon graduation from secondary school, typically at 18 or over
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 15
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: indicated in government forces
  • CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138
  • There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces as the minimum voluntary recruitment age is 15.


Tanzania shelters more than 800,000 refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

According to the 1977 constitution, citizens' duties include defending and protecting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation.1896 Conscription is enforced1897 in recruitment legislation which makes military service, in the form of the National Service Scheme, compulsory for all graduates of secondary school. Graduates are typically over 18 due to the relatively late age at which children begin their education. This National Service Scheme was introduced in the 1960's, but in the 1980's was suspended due to economic reasons and the overly large size of the Tanzania People's Defence Forces. In 1999 the government of Tanzania decided to reactivate the National Service Scheme, known as Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa (JKT) or "army for nation building", but with a greater emphasis on vocational training.1898

According to the Initial report of the United Republic of Tanzania to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in September 2000, the minimum age for voluntary enlistment in the armed forces of Tanzania is only 15. This policy is apparently enforced by Defence Force Regulations.1899

Child Recruitment

The risk of underage recruitment is exacerbated by low levels of birth registration, although parents may later be forced to register their children when enrolling them in primary school. Awareness of the importance of registering births has reportedly been increasing due to public education efforts by the government and NGOs.1900

Government Treatment of Suspected Child Soldiers

On several occasions police arrested Burundian refugees, including children, who were recruited into Burundian armed opposition groups. The children were given reduced sentences of three months prison and caning.1901

1896 Southern African Research and Documentation Centre, Insight: Tanzania, at: http://www.sardc.net/sd/sd_insight_tanzania.htm.

1897 Report of the Secretary-General, UN doc. E/CN.4/1997/99, op. cit.

1898 The East African, "Revive the Youth Army", 17/8/99.

1899 Initial report of the United Republic of Tanzania to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 25/9/00, CRC/C/8/Add.14.Rev.1, para.100.

1900 Ibid. para. 171.

1901 HRW Report 2000.


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