13 October 2012

Tanzania: LHRC Goes to UN Over 'Killings'

Photo: Tommy Trenchard/IRIN
Artisanal diamond miners at work in an open-pit mine.

THE Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) has gone to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, to investigate killings of innocent people in the country by security organs without any disciplinary action taken against those responsible.

The LHRC Executive Director, Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, said in Dar es Salaam that the centre forwarded their complaints to UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, to investigate and take necessary action against the government.Apart from the ICC Prosecutor, the LHRC has also forwarded the complaints to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights in its meeting in Ivory Coast this month, requesting the commission to investigate and take the issue to the African Court.

Dr Kijo-Bisimba said following the brutal killing of David Mwangosi, a TV journalist who was killed while on duty on September 2, this year, LHRC decided to look afresh killings of innocent people by security forces in the country and how the government leaders work to protect those committing such crimes.

She said a survey conducted by the Centre yearly since 2002 revealed that those in security organs carrying out the senseless killings have continued without disciplinary action taken against them, except for being transferred to a different station.Citing an example, Dr Kijo-Bisimba said this year alone up to the end of September 24, people have been killed by security organs.

"Some of the reasons noted consist of lack of political perseverance and lack of proper participatory security plans in the mining areas and in national reserves," she explained.In the recent killing of Mwangosi, Dr Kijo-Bisimba explained that LHRC went through the three reports from the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance and committee team appointed by the Minister for Home Affairs, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi and noted that the latter tried to protect those who were involved in the killing of the journalist.

"LHRC is not surprised by the report from the committee appointed by Dr Nchimbi, showing clearly the government's intention of protecting the suspects, because it has not put in place a system or habit of accepting responsibility," she explained.The LHRC executive director said the MCT report showed how Mwangosi was killed; going against good governance principles, while the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance report showed the Iringa Regional Police Commander (RPC), Michael Kamuhanda, went against good governance principles by interfering in the district authority's duties.

She said the District Police Commander was the one legally responsible with giving permission for demonstration and holding internal meetings for Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA).The Commission also showed that the Population Census Act of 2002, the public is allowed to continue with their daily activities during the exercise, including demonstration and political party meetings.

Dr Kijo-Bisimba said a coroner court is allowed when there is suspicious killings where the police are involved, allowing for independent investigation that does not allow the suspects to investigate themselves."Steps taken by the Minister for Home Affairs to refuse to invite the courts to conduct independent investigations show that the minister intended to side-step the real issue and instead paint a clean picture before the public," she explained.

She said the public expects to see all leaders of the government and state organs involved in the killings in one way or another take responsibility, including stepping down from their position and legal charges brought against them."We do not expect to see those responsible being transferred to different working posts across the country, like we witnessed in the killing in Songea, which were replicated in Iringa," she said.

She urged the public to unite in demanding for their rights and demanding that the police and others involved in the killing of innocent people are taken to task.The LHRC commended the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance and MCT for producing a report that, according to them, did not lean on any side.

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