Dar es Salaam — Rights groups yesterday revealed harassment of eight Tanzanians detained in Malawi over trespassing and reconnaissance, saying they are mistreated and denied humanitarian rights.
Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), Hakirasilimali and the Tanzania Business and Human Rights Organisation (TBHRO) said the reports about mistreatments formed part of the findings of a team of lawyers from TBHRO and Malawi who investigated the matter for three weeks from December 29, 2016 to January 19, this year.
TBHRO executive director Flaviana Charles told a press conference yesterday that the detainees were denied private communication with families and lawyers and that counsels representing them had been threatened and some have withdrawn from the case.
"Ever since police have confiscated their mobile phones and laptops denying them communication with their families and lawyers. This isn't the case with Malawian detainees," she said.
"They also can't spend their money on buying food and water as allowed by laws. Likewise, they can't pay for accommodation despite having money as a result, they have no where to sleep because Malawi remand prisons are overcrowded," he added.
She said intimidation of lawyers by Malawian intelligence and police officers have forced some of them to withdraw from the case, adding that even the Tanzanian ambassador to Malawi had to make extra effort to be allowed to visit them.
Ms Charles said the eight Tanzanians' entry into Malawi was within the neighbouring country's legal framework permitted by their immigration department following invitation from a local organisation known as Karonga Business Community.
She said, it was wrong to condemn the detainees and mistreat them as terrorists and prejudge them as spies.
Delivering a statement by right groups, THRDC National Coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa said Tanzania should press for release of the detainees without conditions.
He named the detainees as: Briton Mateus Mgaya, Wakisa Elias Mwansangu, Majidi Nkota, Christandusi Ngowi, Ashura Kyula, Martin Guido Ndunguru, Wilbert Mahundi and Rainery Komba.
"The two countries should settle any pending disputes between them because innocent citizens are the ones affected and that Malawi should be pressed to compensate innocent detained Tanzanians," he said.