Human rights body wants govt action on shrinking civic space

Thursday October 25 2018



THRDC national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa

THRDC national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999 lkolumbia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDCs) has outlined eight issues that affect human rights defenders particularly state of civic space, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association.

This is according to the organization’s press release on Thursday, October 25.

The statement said issues were raised by THRDC during the 63rd ordinary session of the African Commission on Human Rights and People’s Rights held in Bangui, Gambia between October 23 and 27 this year.

The statement, signed by THRDC national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa, said human rights defenders should be protected by observing declarations, charters and treaties to which Tanzania is a signatory.

“The Tanzania government should enact laws which recognise and protect human rights defenders, take deliberate actions to stop incidents of harassments, arrests, attacks and their malicious prosecutions,” reads part of the statement availed to this paper.

Mr Olengurumwa said the governments should intervene and end all forms of impunity including violations against innocent people, journalists, and human rights defenders by ensuring prompt and impartial investigation is conducted and hold perpetrators accountable.

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According to him, the Tanzanian government should also review and amend draconian laws, which include the Media Services Act, 2016, Cyber Crimes Act, 2016, Statistics Act, 2015, the Police Force Auxiliary Services Act, 1969, the Online Content Regulations, 2018, noting that they negatively affects citizen’s freedom to expression.

“The government should recognise Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and HRDs as development partners, speed up HRDs cases which are pending at the court and urge other African states to emulate President John Magufuli’s efforts to fight corruption,” he said.

The THRDCs concern follows what they described as increased state of impunity, non-respect of the rule of law coupled with rampant undemocratic practices and strict enforcement of draconian laws listed above.

“For instance in 2018, THRDC has recorded at least 29 incidents of violations of HRDs rights which include the arrests, malicious prosecutions, abduction, attacks and criminalizing honest journalists,” he said, adding.

“At least 8 journalists have been arrested and prosecuted for running online content forums without registration few months after enactment of the Online Content Regulations, 2018.”

However, they commended President Magufuli’s efforts to fight corruption using various mechanisms.

“Our emphasis is that strong institutions are vital to make these efforts sustainable and well shared,” he said.