Tanzania called on to ratify convention against torture

Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa makes a point during a workshop on torture and a drive to establish the anti-torture network in Tanzania in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Left is head of Dignity’s Medical Department and chair of the UN CAT, Dr Jens Modvig and the UN CAT Legal Department Advisor Therese Maria Rytter. PHOTO | ERICKY BONIPHACE

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The idea is to make sure all international instruments to which Tanzania is a party to are ratified and a law that prohibits all torture is enacted and enforced

Dar es Salaam. Human rights activists have made a call for Tanzania to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (UN CAT). Tanzania is one of the few countries in Africa that has not ratified the international instrument, although its constitution prohibits torture.

Suns Consultants Country Director, Mr Harold Sungusia, said yesterday at a joint workshop on torture establishing an anti-torture network in Tanzania. “Although the country is a part to the two other international human rights instruments, which prohibit torture on human and people’s rights, it is disappointing that until now Tanzania has neither signed nor ratified the UN CAT,” he said.

In view of this, he added that out of the 200 countries, only 150 of them had signed and ratified the UN CAT.

Explaining further, Mr Sungusia said currently issues related to torture had been increasing and happening in the country although the government lacked data on torture related issues.

According to him, although there is scanty information on torture, it does not mean that there is no torture at all in the country, citing various CSOs releasing reports on torture.

Tanzania Human Rights Defences Coalition National Coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa said with support from the Dignity Danish Institute against torture they would establish a network for keeping records of the people, who had been tortured in the country.

He noted that the network would contribute to the country’s respect for Article 5 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, which stipulated that “no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment and punishment.”

“Torture cuts across almost all human rights issues. Therefore, the formed network will comprise anticipated human rights and social justice stakeholders,” he noted.

He explained that it would involve human rights organisations working in line with human rights issues and would be tailored on raising public awareness, state organs, establishing and strengthen the network against torture.