AS Tanzania joined the world in marking the International Human Rights Day on Monday, it emerged that 673 people were killed through mob justice in the country, last year, and thus denying them their right to live.
The Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, made the revelation in Dar es Salaam. The Day in Tanzania carried the theme; "Participate in the process of re-writing the constitution in order to protect natural resources."
Dr Kijo-Bisimba, who is a staunch advocate of human rights, expressed concern that some citizens have continued to take the law into their own hands by punishing suspected offenders of various crimes and thus creating confusion in the society. She noted that incidences of mob justice have kept on escalating each year, particularly in major cities and towns.
According to her, there were only 40 cases of mob justice in 2005 which have however maintained an upward trend, most of the victims being suspected thieves. On the other hand, the LHRC boss said murder cases on people suspected to be engaged in witchcraft have also been on the rise, recording 579 deaths in 2010 and 600 in the year 2011.
"Likewise, some 52 people were killed under police custody in 2010 while 28 others were killed in 2011. In the year 2005 and 2006, about 36 and 37 people were killed by the cops," she alleged.
Gracing the occasion, the LHRC Board Chairperson, Retired Bishop Dr Elinaza Sendoro, urged Tanzanians to ensure that protection of natural resources is high on the agenda towards re-writing of the country's basic law. Issues to do with land should be protected by the constitution failure of which they might cause huge problems for the country, according to the retired bishop.
The event attracted the general public, civil societies, diplomats accredited to Tanzania and students from primary and secondary schools as well as their counterparts from higher institutions of learning.
Organized by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), the Day started with a peaceful procession that started from LHRC headquarters in Kijitonyama, made several rounds and ended at the TTCL grounds. To spice up the event, various traditional groups entertained the audience with dances and drama.