U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Tanzania

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.


The United Republic of Tanzania amended its Constitution in 1992 to become a multiparty state. In 1995 the nation conducted its first multiparty general elections for president and parliament in more than 30 years. The ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), continued to control the Union Government, winning 186 of the 232 elective seats in Parliament. The CCM presidential candidate, Benjamin Mkapa, won a four-way race with 61.8 percent of the vote. The islands of Zanzibar are integrated into the United Republic's governmental and party structure; however, the Zanzibar Government, which has its own president and parliament, exercises considerable autonomy. Elections for the president and parliament of Zanzibar were also held in 1995. International observers noted serious discrepancies during the vote-counting process, calling into question the reelection of CCM incumbent Dr. Salmin Amour Juma as Zanzibar's President. In the period since that election, calls for new elections by opposition parties were met with reprisals by the authorities. In response, most donors halted economic aid to Zanzibar. The judiciary is formally independent but suffers from corruption, inefficiency, and executive influence. The police have primary responsibility for maintaining law and order. They were formerly supported by citizens' anticrime groups and patrols known as Sungusungu, which have been largely inactive since late 1995 but are still in existence. The police regularly committed human rights abuses. Agriculture provides 85 percent of employment. Cotton, coffee, sisal, tea, and gemstones account for most export earnings. The industrial sector is small. Economic reforms undertaken since 1986, including liberalization of agricultural policy, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the rescheduling of foreign debt payments, and the freeing of the currency exchange rate, helped to stimulate economic growth, as has the decline in the rate of inflation. While the Government has attempted to improve its fiscal management, pervasive corruption constrains economic progress. The Government's human rights record did not improve appreciably, and problems persisted. Although the 1995 multiparty elections represented an important development, citizens' right to change their government in Zanzibar is severely circumscribed. While new opposition parties on the mainland and Zanzibar were competitive in many races in 1995 and in by-elections since that time, winning in various constituencies, police often harassed and intimidated members and supporters of the political opposition. Other human rights problems included police beatings and mistreatment of suspects that sometimes resulted in death. Soldiers attacked civilians, and police in Zanzibar used torture, including beatings and floggings. Throughout the country, prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention continued, and the inefficient and corrupt judicial system often did not provide expeditious and fair trials. Pervasive corruption, which was documented in the Warioba Commission's report, continued to have a broad impact on human rights. The Government infringed on citizens' privacy and limited freedom of speech and of the press, and freedom of assembly, association, and movement. The Government obstructed the formation of domestic human rights groups. Discrimination and violence against women remained serious problems. Abuse of children and child labor continued. The Government infringed on workers' rights. Mob justice remained severe and widespread.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political killings. Credible observers estimate that as many as 10 prisoners die each year as a result of inadequate nutrition, health care, sanitation, and mistreatment, including police beatings of persons in detention (see Section l.c.). There were no developments in the 1993 police killing of a member of the opposition party Civic United Front (CUF) on the island of Pemba. After a lengthy investigation, authorities charged the policeman who fired the shots with involuntary manslaughter; the officer remains free on bail. CUF leaders complained that in 1996 the President and Attorney General of Zanzibar blocked the prosecution of the police officer. Nearly 5 years after the event, a trial is still pending. Instances of mob justice against suspected criminals continued to claim dozens of lives. Throughout the year, the media reported numerous incidents in which mobs killed suspected thieves, who were stoned, lynched, beaten to death, or doused with gasoline and set on fire. Such events are so commonplace that they are often grouped together with reporting on car accidents and other mishaps. Many instances are never reported. The widespread belief in witchcraft has led, in some instances, to the killing of alleged witches by their victims, aggrieved relatives, or mobs. A deputy minister estimated that 100 mostly older women in the Mwanza and Shinyanga regions are killed every year by those who believe them to be witches. Government officials condemn these practices and some arrests occur. However, most perpetrators of witch-killing or mob justice elude arrest, and the Government has not taken preventive measures.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits the use of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, but the police regularly threaten, mistreat, or occasionally beat suspected criminals during and after their apprehension and interrogation. Police also use the same means to obtain information about suspects from family members not in custody. Although government officials usually condemn these practices, the Government seldom prosecutes police for such abuses. The People's Militia Laws, as amended by Parliament in 1989, bestow quasilegal status on the traditional Sungusungu neighborhood and village anticrime groups. Participation in these groups was compulsory prior to the 1995 election. In the past, these groups were criticized for using excessive force with criminal suspects. While largely moribund since that election, the Sungusungu still exist and in July the President asked that government law enforcement officials work cooperatively with the Sungusungu. He created a committee to recommend ways of strengthening relations between the traditional and formal security entities. Repeated reports from credible sources indicate that the police use torture, including beatings and floggings in Zanzibar, notably on Pemba Island. The Zanzibar and Union Governments have both denied these charges. In June police in Arusha were charged with torturing 10 women detainees, 1 of whom had a miscarriage. In September the Zanzibar prisons commissioner confirmed the death of a remand prisoner who reportedly died of illness en route to a hospital; the family alleged that the prisoner was taken to the prison after being severely beaten at a police station. Numerous incidents of soldiers attacking civilians were reported. In October undisciplined troops seized a bus and beat and robbed its passengers traveling to Kigoma. A government commission of inquiry established following a similar 1996 incident had not reached any conclusions at year's end. Pervasive corruption is a serious problem in the police force. The report of the Warioba Commission on Corruption that was released in April found that police arrest innocent people and file false charges against them if they refuse to pay bribes. The Government did not punish or prosecute any police officers for such abuses. Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Government officials acknowledged that prisons are overcrowded and living conditions are poor. The daily amount of food allotted to prisoners is insufficient to meet their nutritional needs, and even this amount is not always provided. Prisons are authorized to hold 21,000 persons, but the actual prison population is estimated at 47,000 persons. The Government is expanding prisons, but its efforts have not kept pace with the growing number of prisoners. The Government does not release timely statistics on the prison expansion program or on the exact extent of the overcrowding. In August the law review commission called for the construction of 22 new prisons. Some prisoners are paroled or receive suspended sentences as a means of relieving overcrowding. The Warioba Commission reported that wardens give favorable treatment to certain prisoners at the expense of others. One person released from Ukonga prison in 1996 reported that guards beat and abused prisoners, particularly during monthly searches in which all prisoners were assembled and required to strip. Serious diseases, such as dysentery, malaria, and cholera, are common and result in deaths because of inadequate medical care by the authorities. Medical treatment is limited, and friends and family of prisoners generally need to provide medication or the funds with which to purchase them. A prisoner denied medical treatment for almost a month died in January en route to a hospital. Soon thereafter, another person died at a bus stop within minutes of being released from Segerea prison. Convicted prisoners are not allowed to receive food from the outside and are often moved to different prisons without notification of their families. Pretrial detainees are held together with those serving sentences but are allowed to receive food from the outside. There is no outside monitoring of prison conditions.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention are problems. The Criminal Procedure Code, amended in 1985, requires that a person arrested for a crime, other than a national security charge under the Preventive Detention Act, be charged before a magistrate within 24 hours. However, in practice, the police often fail to comply. The 1985 amendments also restricted the right to bail and imposed strict conditions on freedom of movement and association when bail is granted. Because of backlogs, an average case still takes 2 to 3 years or longer to come to trial. The Code provides for a right to defense counsel. The Chief Justice assigns lawyers to indigent defendants charged with serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter, and armed robbery. There are only a few hundred practicing lawyers in the country, and most indigent defendants charged with lesser crimes do not have legal counsel. In many cases, accused persons are denied the right to contact a lawyer or talk with family members. Under the Preventive Detention Act, the President may order the arrest and indefinite detention without bail of any person considered dangerous to the public order or national security. This act was amended in 1985 to require the Government to release detainees within 15 days of detention or inform them of the reason for their detention. The detainee was also allowed to challenge the grounds for detention at 90-day intervals. Despite a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal in 1991 that the Preventive Detention Act could not be used to deny bail to persons not considered dangerous to society, the Government has still not introduced corrective legislation. The Preventive Detention Act was not used during the year. While the Law Reform Commission recommended that the act be repealed, the President said that repeal is unnecessary if the law is not being used. The Government has additional broad detention powers under the Regions and Regional Commissioners Act and the Area Commissioners Act of 1962. These acts permit regional and district commissioners to arrest and detain for 48 hours persons who may disturb public tranquility. Police continued to make arbitrary arrests, although less frequently than in the past. For example, the police occasionally arrest relatives of criminal suspects and hold them in custody without charge for as long as several years to attempt to force suspects to surrender. Such relatives who manage to get their cases before a judge are usually set free, only to be immediately rearrested when they leave the courtroom. The Government took no action to correct this abuse during the year. According to the Warioba Commission report, police arrest innocent people, accuse them of crimes not committed, and withdraw or reduce the charges upon payment of bribes. The Government has not taken any action to correct these abuses. Since the 1995 election, police in Zanzibar, particularly on Pemba, have regularly detained, arrested, or harassed CUF members and suspected supporters. In September police detained a prominent opposition politician for 6 days before releasing her. Despite orders from the Union Government's Inspector General of Police, officers in Zanzibar continued these activities. The Government does not used forced exile.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; in practice the higher courts have increasingly demonstrated their independence of the Government, although executive interference exists. In the past, senior police or government officials pressured and sometimes reassigned judges who made unpopular rulings; no such incidents occurred during the year. Independent observers, however, continue to criticize the judiciary, especially at lower levels, as corrupt and inefficient and question the system's ability to provide a defendant with an expeditious and fair trial. In June the Chief Justice suspended a magistrate who had refused for 4 years to produce a copy of her ruling so that the defendant could file an appeal. The Warioba Commission found that pervasive corruption affected the judiciary from clerks to magistrates. Clerks took bribes to decide whether or not to open cases and to hide or misdirect the files of those accused of crimes. Magistrates often accept bribes to determine guilt or innocence, pass sentence, withdraw charges, or decide appeals. In Dar es Salaam 235 remand prisoners refused to appear in court in January, charging that they could not get fair trials. A committee was later formed to petition the Government to improve prison conditions and speed up trials. The legal system is based on the British model, with modifications to accommodate customary and Islamic law in civil cases. Military courts do not try civilians, and there are no security courts. Defendants in civil and military courts may appeal decisions to the High Court and Court of Appeal. Zanzibar's court system generally parallels the mainland's legal system but retains Islamic courts to adjudicate Muslim family cases such as divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Cases concerning Zanzibar constitutional issues are heard only in Zanzibar's courts. All other cases may be appealed to the national Court of Appeal. The majority of individuals held in the two major prisons in Dar es Salaam are awaiting trial, and in many instances bribes determine whether bail is granted or even whether a case is judged as a civil or criminal matter. There are reports of prisoners waiting several years for trial because they could not pay bribes to police and court officials. Authorities acknowledge that some cases have been pending since 1988. The Government initiated efforts as early as 1991 to highlight judicial corruption and increased its oversight. Limited progress has been made, and during the year several magistrates resigned after the Chief Justice was presented with credible evidence of corruption. Criminal trials are open to the public and to the press; courts must give reasons on the record for holding secret proceedings. Criminal defendants have the right of appeal. While juvenile courts have theoretically existed since 1964, no separate facility existed for young offenders, many of whom were tried in adult courts. A separate juvenile court facility, funded by donors, opened in July. There were no reports of political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The State continued to interfere with these rights, which are generally provided for in the Constitution. The CCM has historically penetrated all levels of society through local cells, varying in size from single family homes to large apartment buildings and containing from 10 to 200 persons. Unpaid party officials serve as 10-cell leaders with authority to resolve problems at the grassroots level and to report to authorities any suspicious behavior, event, or noncompliance with compulsory night patrol service in the neighborhood. In 1993 elections were held for new grassroots leaders to replace the CCM 10-cell leaders in nonparty business. Few voters participated in these elections, which were boycotted by the opposition, and the 10-cell leaders retain nearly all of their power and influence. However, since the 1993 elections the role of the cells has diminished considerably. CCM membership is voluntary and is estimated at 2 to 3 million members. While in the past CCM membership was necessary for advancement in political and other areas, the importance of such membership is waning. The Criminal Procedures Act of 1985 authorizes police officials, including the civilian anticrime units, to issue search warrants. However, the act also authorizes searches of persons and premises without a warrant if necessary to prevent the loss or destruction of evidence connected with an offense or if circumstances are serious and urgent. In practice warrants are rarely requested, and police and other security services search private homes and business establishments at will. The security services reportedly monitor telephones and correspondence of some citizens and foreign residents. The police occasionally arrest relatives of criminal suspects and detain them without charge in an effort to force suspects to surrender (see Section 1.d.). National employment directives stipulating the nature of employment and location of residence give authorities the right to transfer citizens to another area to ensure their productive employment (see Section 2.d.).

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the Government limited these rights in practice. The Government pressures journalists to practice self-censorship and denied unrestricted access to political opponents. In September police interrogated a journalist for the Majira newspaper for writing articles about problems along the border with Burundi. Except in Zanzibar, citizens generally enjoyed the right to discuss freely political alternatives. Opposition political party members and others openly criticize the Government and ruling party in public forums. However, persons using abusive language against the country's leadership may be subject to arrest, and the Government used this provision to detain some opposition figures. In July a former presidential candidate was arrested in Zanzibar and charged with making seditious comments about the chairman of the electoral commission. Earlier in the year, President Mkapa intimated publicly that government officials who support the opposition could lose their jobs. On Zanzibar, radio and television are controlled by the Government, which also practices a restrictive policy with regard to print media. Private mainland newspapers are widely available, and many residents can receive mainland television. The press on the mainland is, on the whole, lively and outspoken, and even the government-owned newspaper occasionally reports events that may portray the Government in an unflattering light. There are 9 daily newspapers and 15 other newspapers in English and Kiswahili, along with another dozen periodicals some of which are owned or influenced by political parties, both the CCM and the opposition. The rising cost of newsprint resulted in the closure of 15 newspapers in 1996. There is no official censorship, but throughout the year the Government continued to pressure newspapers to suppress or change articles unfavorable to it. In 1996 the Government of Zanzibar banned from the islands the privately owned Kiswahili Language newspaper Majira. A member of an opposition party central committee was arrested in June for entering Zanzibar with four copies of the newspaper. In July that newspaper was charged with sedition for having published a speech made by a presidential candidate in 1995. Private radio and television stations broadcast in Dar es Salaam and in a few other urban areas, although their activities may be circumscribed. The Government reportedly does not censor news reports, but attempts to influence their content. Some journalists, such as those in Zanzibar, exercise self-censorship on sensitive issues. Authorities prevented television cameramen from filming the swearing in of an opposition member of Parliament. Journalists who report arrests can be charged with obstructing police activity under the 1964 Police Act. In March a journalist was sentenced to 1 year in prison for possessing a supposedly secret document, which was in fact a personal letter. The arrest and conviction were widely publicized, and, in an example of judicial independence, a court later overturned the conviction. The Union Government sought to maintain some control over the private media with the establishment of a code of conduct for journalists and a Media Council. With the leadership of the local chapter of the Media Council for Southern Africa and the Association of Journalists and Media Workers, journalists forced the Government to agree to a voluntary code of ethics and establishment of a media council intended to preserve and expand media freedom. The council was formally inaugurated on August 16, although it came into existence in 1996. Thus far, it has proved ineffectual. Academic freedom is largely respected in practice. Academics, increasingly outspoken in their criticism of the Government, stepped up their calls for reform.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly; however, the Government limits this right in practice. Political parties must give the police 48 hours' advance notice of rallies. Police have the authority to deny permission on public safety or security grounds or if the permit seeker belongs to an unregistered organization or political party. In September 1996, an opposition party canceled its march to celebrate the victory of one of its by-election candidates because of government intimidation, and police dispersed another opposition procession in February. Authorities arrested citizens for assembling without the appropriate permit. Opposition parties, other than in Zanzibar, are able to hold rallies. Zanzibar government officials prohibited the assembly of CUF supporters and use of CUF slogans for the 10 months following the 1995 election. They continue to ban CUF meetings, although they occasionally lift the ban. Police continue to break up meetings attended by persons thought to be opposed to the Zanzibar Government. In Pemba security forces broke up gatherings and intimidated officials. On the mainland, by-elections that were held 6 times during the year were on occasion marred by violence. Tight security was employed at polling places. Opposition candidates won some of these elections. However, in late 1996, following its loss in a by-election, the Government issued new directives limiting political activity and fund raising on the grounds of maintaining order. In advance of a Zanzibar by-election in November, government officials harassed opposition supporters, and some violent incidents took place in connection with voter registration. Police arrested 7 CUF officials including two Parliamentarians on the eve of the November 30 Mkunazini by-election in Zanzibar, which was won by the CUF. After the election, police arrested an additional 7 party officials, eventually charging each of the 14 persons with treason for having attempted to overthrow the Zanzibar Government. The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, the Government limits this right in practice. The Registrar of Political Parties has sole authority to approve or deny the registration of any political party and is responsible for enforcing strict regulations on registered or provisionally registered parties. The Constitution and other legal acts and stipulate that citizens cannot establish new political parties; candidates must be members of 1 of the 13 registered political parties. The electoral law prohibits independent candidates; requires all standing Members of Parliament to resign if they join another party; requires all political parties to support the union with Zanzibar; and forbids parties based on ethnic, regional, or religious affiliation. Parties granted provisional registration may hold public meetings and recruit members. They have 6 months to submit lists of at least 200 members in 10 of the country's 25 regions, including 2 regions in Zanzibar, in order to secure full registration and to be eligible to field candidates for election. Nonregistered parties are prohibited from holding meetings, recruiting members, or fielding candidates. Although the Registrar of Political Parties called the registration provisions too restrictive, no remedial action has been taken. Moreover, the registrar announced plans to deregister parties that failed to win 3 percent of the vote in the last election. The most prominent unregistered party was the Reverend Christopher Mikila's Democratic Party, which advocates the dissolution of the union and the expulsion of minorities from the mainland. Despite his party's lack of government recognition, Mtikila was able to publicize his views through his legally registered church and through ongoing lawsuits against the Government. Under the Societies Ordinance, the Ministry of Home Affairs must approve any new association. Several nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) were formed in the last few years to address the concerns of families, the disabled, women, and children. NGO's formed during the year emphasized gender and environmental problems. Registration of new NGO's was suspended, pending the enactment of a new NGO act. The National Women's Council, registered in 1993, was suspended by the Ministry in 1996 and deregistered in 1997, allegedly because it engaged in political activity contrary to its charter. The Council challenged the deregistration in the courts, and the matter had not been finally resolved by year's end. The incident, however, provoked the drafting by the Tanganyika Law Society of a model NGO law, which was presented to the Government for its consideration. A number of professional, business, legal, and medical associations have only begun to address political topics. The Government for more than 3 years withheld registration from an NGO called Defenders of Human Rights in Tanzania (see Section 4) until finally denying registration during the year. A youth group has also been denied registration on the grounds that there already was a youth organization affiliated with the CCM. Opposition leaders complain that the Zanzibar government is even more restrictive in registering societies than the Union Government.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice, subject to measures that it claims are necessary to ensure public order and safety. Missionaries are allowed to enter the country freely, particularly if proselytizing is ancillary to other religious activities. Citizens are allowed to go abroad for pilgrimages and other religious practices.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government imposes some limits on these rights. Short-term domestic travel is not restricted, but citizens must follow national employment directives stipulating the nature of employment and location of the residence. The Human Resources Deployment Act of 1983 requires local governments to ensure that every resident within their area of jurisdiction engages in productive and lawful employment. Those not employed are subject to transfer to another area where employment is available. These laws, although generally not rigorously enforced, are used by police as a means of soliciting bribes and intimidating urban residents. The Dar es Salaam City Council rounds up beggars for return to their home areas, but many return to the capital. In June the Zanzibar government returned thousands of persons to their places of birth in an effort to curb urban congestion. Passports for foreign travel may be difficult to obtain, mostly due to bureaucratic inefficiency and officials' demands for bribes. Citizens can return without difficulty. Mainlanders are required to show identification to travel to Zanzibar and are not allowed to work or own land on the islands. The Government cooperates with the U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The Government traditionally maintained a generous open border policy both with regard to neighboring countries' refugees and to persons seeking political asylum. However, following an influx of Rwandan refugees in early 1995, the Government closed the borders with Rwanda and Burundi. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers nonetheless entered the country thereafter. Occasionally local authorities used laws, such as those on poaching, trespassing, and illegal migration, to forcibly repatriate several hundred Rwandan refugees previously admitted. By early 1997, virtually all Rwandans had departed because of the Government's use of force and intimidation. Most remaining Rwandans are considered illegal immigrants, but a relatively small number of Rwandans who feared for their safety were granted asylum by the Government, and appeals by others who petitioned for asylum are pending. Tanzania continues to offer first asylum to over 250,000 refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

A multiparty political system was officially introduced in 1992. In 1995, for the first time in more than 30 years, citizens exercised their right to change their government through national elections for president and parliament. The CCM, with huge advantages over opposition parties in membership and access to resources including its own daily Kiswahili Language newspaper, retained 186 of 232 elective seats in Parliament and won the presidency. Despite government tactics to restrict or delay the activities of its opponents, the opposition achieved occasional success in judicial challenges and received about 38 percent of the vote. The Government arrested opposition politicians for holding meetings, distributing information, and other acts that it regarded as seditious. The Constitution of Zanzibar provides citizens with the right to change peacefully their government; however, this right has been severely circumscribed. The 1995 presidential election in Zanzibar was seriously flawed. Government-owned broadcast media in Zanzibar were biased in favor of the CCM incumbent president Salmin Amour Juma. The government party intimidated and harassed the opposition and did not permit opposition rallies until 2 months prior to the election. Further, registration was limited to persons who had maintained the same residence for 5 years, which disenfranchised many voters. CUF party members were also detained by police when they attempted to campaign in rural areas. Election observers in Zanzibar were denied access to the tabulation of votes from polling stations. After 4 days, the Zanzibar Electoral Commission appointed by the Amour government, announced that Amour had won by 0.5 percent of the vote. Figures tabulated by the CUF showed a similarly close victory for its candidate. After efforts by the international community to reconcile discrepancies in the vote counting, observers concluded that the official results may have been inaccurate. The Zanzibar and Union Governments both rejected calls to overturn the result and conduct a new election for the presidency of Zanzibar. In the 2 years since the election, government security forces and CCM gangs harassed and intimidated CUF members on both main Zanzibar islands, Pemba and Ugunja. Because the CUF won all 20 seats on Pemba, Pembans living on Ugunja were regarded as CUF supporters and as a result were harassed. CUF members accused police of detaining dozens of its members including several local leaders. Many CUF supporters left Ugunja for Pemba or the mainland. Citizens' safety is not ensured in Pemba, however, where security forces dispersed gatherings and intimidated individuals. Almost all international donors have suspended direct assistance to Zanzibar in response to activities of the authorities. There are no restrictions in law on the participation of women in politics and government. In practice, however, few women are politically active. Eight of 232 elected members of the Union Parliament are women. In addition, 37 female members of the CCM and opposition parties were appointed to Parliament to seats reserved for women in order to meet the legal requirement that at least 15 percent of Members of Parliament be women. The President has set a goal that women constitute 30 percent of parliamentarians elected in 2000. Three of the Cabinet's 23 ministers are women.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

The Government has obstructed the formation of local human rights groups. Persons seeking to register human rights NGO's, such as the Defenders of Human Rights in Tanzania and the Tanzania Human Rights Education Society, complained that the Ministry of Home Affairs continued to delay action on their applications (see Section 2.b.). This hampered their access and efforts to monitor violations of human rights. The Government continued to refuse registration of the African Human Rights and Justice Protection Network on the grounds that it was politically oriented. The Government deregistered the National Women's Council (see Section 2.b.). Government officials have said that international human rights groups are welcome to visit Tanzania. Amnesty International visited 5 times during the year.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on nationality, tribe, origin, political affiliation, color, religion, or lifestyle. Discrimination based on sex, age, or disability is not specifically prohibited by law but is publicly discouraged in official statements.


Violence against women remained widespread. Legal remedies exist, but in practice are difficult to obtain. Traditional customs subordinating women remain strong in both urban and rural areas and local magistrates often upheld such practices. Women may be punished for not bearing children. It is accepted for a husband to treat his wife as he wishes, and wife beating can occur at all levels of society. Cultural, family, and social pressure prevent many women from reporting abuses to authorities. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Home Affairs noted that an average of 10,000 cases of wife beating are reported annually. Government officials frequently make public statements decrying such abuses, but rarely is action taken against perpetrators. Although the Government advocates equal rights for women in the workplace, it does not ensure these rights in practice. In the public sector, which employs 80 percent of the salaried labor force, certain statutes restrict women's access to some jobs or hours of employment. While progress on women's rights has been more noticeable in urban areas, strong traditional norms still divide labor along gender lines and place women in a subordinate position. Discrimination against women is most acute in the countryside, where women are relegated to farming and raising children, and have almost no opportunity for wage employment. Custom and tradition often hinder women from owning property such as land, and these factors may override other laws that provide for equal treatment. Women seeking higher education may be harassed by male colleagues, but authorities have largely ignored the practice. The overall situation for women is even less favorable in heavily Muslim Zanzibar. Women there, and in many parts of the mainland, face discriminatory restrictions on inheritance and ownership of property because of concessions by the Government and courts to customary and Islamic law. While provisions of the Marriage Act provide for certain inheritance and property rights for women, application of customary, Islamic, or statutory law depends on the lifestyle and stated intentions of the male head of household. The courts have thus upheld discriminatory inheritance claims primarily in rural areas. Under Zanzibari law, unmarried women under the age of 21 who become pregnant are subject to 2 years' imprisonment. Several NGO's provide counseling and education programs on women's rights problems, particularly sexual harassment and molestation. The Government deregistered the National Woman's Council (See Section 2.b.).


Government funding of programs for children's welfare remained minuscule. The Government has made some constructive efforts to address children's welfare, including working closely with the U.N. Children's Fund and other international and local organizations to improve the well-being of orphans and neglected children. The law provides for 7 years of compulsory schooling through the age of 15. In January the Education Minister said that some teachers were demanding money to enroll students in school with the result that some children have been denied an education. The Warioba Commission confirmed that bribes may determine whether a child is eligible to register in school. In the past, girls who became pregnant were expelled from school. In 1996 officials put into effect procedures to permit pregnant girls to continue their educations following their maternity absences. However, the application of these procedures is not universal, and laws forcing girls out of school remain in effect. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health. Although the Government officially discourages FGM, it is still performed at an early age in approximately 20 of the country's 130 main ethnic groups, affecting 18 percent of the female population, according to a 1996 health survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics. In some groups, FGM is compulsory, and in others, a woman who has not undergone the ritual may not be able to marry. In the Arusha and Dodoma regions, a reported 81 and 68 percent of women, respectively, have suffered FGM. Government officials have called for changes in practices that adversely affect women, but introduced no legislation that would specifically restrict the practice of FGM. Some local government officials have begun to combat the practice, and in 1996 convicted and imprisoned some persons who mutilated young girls. Seminars sponsored by various governmental and nongovernmental organizations are regularly held in an attempt to educate the public on the dangers of FGM and other traditional practices. These practices include the tradition of inherited wives, which critics contend contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS. While some authorities believe that FGM is declining, a government report suggests that it is on the rise, especially in the central region.

People With Disabilities

The Government does not mandate access to public buildings, transportation, or government services for people with disabilities. Although there is no official discrimination against the disabled, in practice the physically disabled are effectively restricted in their access to education, employment, and provision of other state services due to physical barriers. The Government provides only limited funding for special facilities and programs.

Religious Minorities

The Muslim community claims to be disadvantaged in terms of its representation in the civil service and government and in state-owned business, in part because both colonial and past post-independence administrations refused to recognize the credentials of traditional Muslim schools. As a result, there is widespread Muslim resentment of the perceived advantages enjoyed by Christians. Christians, in turn, have been critical of what they perceive as undue favoritism accorded to Muslims in appointments, jobs, and scholarships by former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, a Muslim. Some leaders in both groups appear to be fomenting religious tension. There does not appear to be any serious problem of discrimination due to religion in access to employment or educational opportunities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

In the past, the Government discriminated against the Barabaig and other nomadic people in the north. These ethnic groups continued to complain of past government discrimination because of efforts to make them adopt a more modern lifestyle and to restrict their access to pastoral land that was turned into large government wheat farms. The Asian community declined by 50 percent in the past decade to about 50,000, a result of considerable antipathy by many African Tanzanians. There are, however, no laws or official policies that discriminate against Asians. As the Government places greater emphasis on market-oriented policies and privatization, public concern regarding the Asian minority's economic role has increased. This has led to demands for policies of indigenization to ensure that privatization does not increase the Asian community's economic predominance at the expense of the country's African population.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

Both the Constitution and the 1955 Trade Union Ordinance refer to the right of association of workers. Nevertheless, workers do not have the right to form or join organizations of their choice. The Organization of Tanzania Trade Unions Act of 1991 addresses all labor union issues. The act created the Organization of Tanzania Trade Unions (OTTU), the only trade union organization; it was renamed the Tanzania Federation of Trade Unions (TFTU) in 1995. The Federation is able to function, although it has still not been formally registered. The TFTU is comprised of 11 independent trade unions, which have the right to leave the TFTU and to collect their own dues, 5 percent of which are contributed to the federation. In May the regional International Labor Organization (ILO) representative called for the repeal of the OTTU act, noting that the law hindered the registration of unions. More than 2 years after the labor reorganization, only 1 of the 11 new independent unions, the Tanzanian Teachers' Union, is fully registered. Although unions exist in the workplace, the absence of registration makes relations with employers difficult. Noting this, in July the chairman of the Association of Tanzania Employers called on the Government to recognize the unions in law. In late 1996, the Zanzibar Government suspended the activities of the teachers' union and stated that it did not recognize any trade union, even those officially registered. Although the TFTU may nominally represents 60 percent of workers in industry and government, in some sectors it deducts dues from workers' pay whether or not they are members. The TFTU has little influence on labor policy. Overall, less than 25 percent of the country's 2 million wage earners are organized. All workers, including those classified as essential service workers, are permitted to join unions, but essential workers are not permitted to strike. There are no laws prohibiting retribution against legal strikers. However, workers have the legal right to strike only after complicated and protracted mediation and conciliation procedures leading ultimately to the Industrial Court, which receives direction from the Minister of Labor and Youth Development. If the TFTU is not satisfied with the decision of the Industrial Court, it may then conduct a legal strike. These procedures can prolong a dispute by months without resolving it. Pending a resolution, frustrated workers have staged impromptu, illegal wildcat strikes and walkouts. The Tanzanian Harbor Authority workers, glass workers, textile workers, and newspaper workers staged such strikes during the year. The TFTU expanded upon its forerunner's membership in regional and pan Africanist trade union organizations by joining the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in 1996.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is protected by law but limited to the private sector. Wages for employees of the Government and state-owned organizations, which account for the bulk of the salaried labor force, are administratively set by the Government. Although the TFTU negotiates on behalf of most private sector employees with the Association of Tanzanian Employers, collective agreements must be submitted to the Industrial Court for approval. The ILO has observed that these provisions are not in conformity with ILO Convention 98 on Collective Bargaining and the Right to Organize. The Security of Employment Act of 1964 prohibits discriminatory activities by an employer against union members. Employers found guilty of antiunion activities are legally required to reinstate workers. According to the Warioba Commission, bribes may determine whether a worker dismissed from his job may be reinstalled. There are no export processing zones (EPZ's) on the mainland, but there are three in Zanzibar. Working conditions are comparable to those in other areas. Labor law protections apply to EPZ workers.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, which also applies to children. However, the ILO observed that various provisions of the law are incompatible with ILO Conventions 29 and l05 on forced labor. Specifically, the Human Resources Deployment Act of 1983 requires that every local government authority ensure that able-bodied persons over 15 years of age not in school engage in productive or other lawful employment. In some rural areas, ordinary villagers are still obligated to work in the village communal gardens or on small construction projects, such as repairing roads.

d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment

The Constitution does not specifically prohibit forced or bonded child labor, but the Government is working with NGO's to establish this prohibition explicitly (see Section 6.c.). By law children under the age of 12 are prohibited from working in the formal wage sector in both urban and rural areas, and the Government enforces this prohibition. However, this provision does not apply to children working on family farms or herding domestic livestock. Children between the ages of 12 and 15 may be employed on a daily wage and on a day-to-day basis, but they must have parental permission and return to the residence of their guardian at night. The minimum age for work of a contractual nature in approved occupations is set at 15 years. The law prohibits a young person from employment in any occupation that is injurious to health and that is dangerous or otherwise unsuitable. Young persons between the ages of 12 and 15 may be employed in industrial work but only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., with some exceptions. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and Youth Development is responsible for enforcement, but the number of inspectors is inadequate to police conditions. The effectiveness of government enforcement reportedly has declined with increased privatization. Approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children engage in seasonal employment on sisal, tea, tobacco, and coffee plantations. Children working on plantations generally receive lower wages than their older counterparts although they may be in comparable jobs. Work on sisal plantations is particularly hazardous and detrimental to children. On one sisal plantation, children made up 30 percent of the work force; only half the children had completed primary school. They had a high incidence of skin and respiratory problems, were not provided protective clothing, and lacked adequate nourishment and lodging. Another 1,500 to 3,000 children work in unregulated gemstone mines. In the informal sector, children assist their parents in unregulated piecework manufacturing.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

A legal minimum wage for employment exists in the formal sector. The TFTU often negotiates higher minimum wages with individual employers, depending on the financial status of the business. The legal minimum wage is $27 (17,500 Tanzanian shillings) per month. Even when supplemented with various benefits such as housing, transport allowances, and food subsidies, the minimum rate may not always be sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family, and workers must depend on the extended family or a second or third job. Despite the minimum wage, many workers, especially in the informal sector, are paid less. There is no standard legal workweek. However, a 5-day, 40-hour workweek is in effect for government workers. Most private employers retain a 6-day, 44- to 48-hour workweek. In general, women may not be employed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Several laws regulate safety in the workplace. An occupational health and safety factory inspection system, set up with the assistance of the ILO, is now managed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and Youth Development. Its effectiveness, however, is limited. TFTU officials have claimed that enforcement of labor standards is effective in the formal sector, but no verification studies have been performed. Workers may sue an employer through their TFTU branch if their working conditions do not comply with the Ministry of Labor's health and environmental standards. Workers making such complaints have not lost their jobs as a result. However, workers do not have the right to remove themselves from dangerous situations without jeopardizing their employment. Enforcement of labor standards is nonexistent in the informal sector.

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