Before our weekend session on human rights starts in a few days, we would like to invite you to already start the discussion about the state of human rights in Tanzania on our blog. Press articles from different media and the “Tanzania Human Rights Report 2013” published by the Legal Human Rights Centre (LHRC) identify several areas where human rights violations repeatedly take place in Tanzania. The human rights abuses named by these reports include amongst others:
· In 2013, at least eight police officers have been killed by angry civilians, while, on the other hand, 23 civilians were killed by excessive use of force from security forces such as policemen, military personnel, wildlife reserve officers or local militias.
· Mob violence is another pressing issue. Not only individuals who committed a crime, but oftentimes innocent persons become victims of this terrible form of “street justice”. The rising number of deaths caused by mob violence from 1234 in 2012 to 1669 in 2013 is alarming.
· Furthermore, a shocking number of 765 persons were killed last year due to witchcraft belief. Yet, the reports claim that sometimes, the accusation of witchcraft is only used to foreshadow the true motives of a murder, such as the wish to access land or property of the attacked individual.
· So far, the death penalty has not been banned from the Tanzanian Constitution, although the last hanging of a person took place in 1994. It is not clear yet, if the Constituent Assembly will decide to abolish capital punishment in the new constitutional draft.
· Sadly, gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation, still takes place in Tanzania’s society.
What can be done to improve the protection of human rights in Tanzania? Is the constitution making process a chance for Tanzania, to better protect the rights of its people? The constitution will only provide effective protection if non-discrimination and equality are fundamental principles of the new draft and if minorities that are likely to be attacked or discriminated against are included in the constitution making process. Does the Constituent Assembly represent the diversity of the Tanzanian society? Are vulnerable persons being heard in the constitution making process?
What can be done to promote the rights of Tanzanian women? Can inequality and violence be eradicated by the constitution or do these problems have to be addressed socially and not legally?
Are “street justice”, mob violence and attacks against security personnel a consequence of the poor performance of the country’s security institutions or is this just an excuse of those who engage in violence?
Is the belief in witchcraft the result of poor education or is it simply part of Tanzania’s culture?
We are looking forward to hearing your opinions on these questions and other issues you consider to be important!
Please read the following reports and articles for more details: