13 March 2017

Tanzania: Magufuli Rebuked Over Order On Deportees

Photo: Daily News
Tanzanians being deported from Mozambique.

Tanzania's human-rights watchdog has criticised President John Magufuli's stance on the expulsion of Tanzanians living illegally in Mozambique.

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) said it has received a number of complaints from the deportees ranging from rape and torture to seizure of property, and has raised concern over the government's "indifference" towards safeguarding its citizens' interests.

CHRAGG chairman Bahame Nyanduga said that his hands are tied since his commission is not mandated to interfere in anything involving a foreign country. Mr Nyanduga said that under international law, a country has an obligation to protect its citizens abroad.

Last week at a public rally, President John Magufuli endorsed the expulsion saying that the government will not extend any assistance to the victims who claim to have been tortured during Maputo's crackdown on foreigners.

He said that his government will not send any vehicle to Mozambique to bring back any person who entered there illegally nor foot any transport bill for them.

"If the immigrants did not ask for any assistance when they were leaving the country illegally, we are under no obligation to send them vehicles now that they are coming back," said Dr Magufuli.

Friendly neighbours

The president added that similar operations to kick out illegal immigrants had been carried out in Tanzania and that the two countries remain good friends.

Nearly 200 Tanzanians have been reportedly kicked out of Mozambique in the recent crackdown.

On his part, Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation Minister Augustine Mahiga denied reports of torture and excessive use of force by security forces in Mozambique against the Tanzanian deportees.

"In any operation, there are always such complaints where some security personnel can sometimes push a person or do anything in the course of discharging their duties," Dr Mahiga was quoted as saying, adding that the state had been closely monitoring the situation.

Mr Nyanduga has also raised concern over "increasing human rights abuse in Tanzania," noting that in recent times, district and regional commissioners have been abusing their powers to arrest citizens.

Under the Regional Administration Act (1997), district and regional commissioners have the power to order the arrest of a person who commits an offence. Sub-section two says that the regional commissioner shall order the arrest of an individual if he/she has reason to believe that the person is likely to breach peace and tranquility, and that breach cannot be prevented in any other way apart from arresting that person.

Recently, there have been civil concerns over the use of this power by Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda, who has been involved in the fight against illicit drugs, and has been summoning artistes, politicians and businessmen to the police station for quizzing. Some have been detained.

There have also been reports of arrests ordered by District Commissioners in several districts for various causes, which were greeted by criticism from the civil society and legal community.

Speaking about recent dramatic denial of bail for Chadema MP Godbless Lema who spent four months behind the bar while legal wrangle between his lawyers and Government attorneys, where the High Court Judges rapped State Attorney over 'abusing legal profession', Mr Nyanduga described the situation as "a dangerous state of affair"

"I have confidence in the independence of the judiciary and anyone aggrieve with the conduct of the state machinery should challenge that in court... we have heard members of Parliament being arrested in Bunge premises without even the Speaker being notified, I would expect

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