17 April 2017

Tanzania: Dar Under Pressure to Explain Abduction, Torture Cases

Photo: Daily News
Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli.

Tanzanian members of parliament and civil society members have criticised the government over inaction on the disappearances and abductions, which they say signifies that state actors could be involved.

Reacting to news of the recent abduction and torture of four people, including musician Ibrahim Mussa aka Roma Mkatoliki by unknown people, ACT-Wazalendo MP Zitto Kabwe called for a special parliamentary committee to look into the rising cases of abductions and disappearances.

Mr Kabwe said he had evidence of the involvement of state security officials in some of the incidents.

"I will tender the evidence to the parliamentary probe committee, should one be formed," he said.

ACT-Wazalendo MP Zitto Kabwe. PHOTO|FILE

He said the government lacks seriousness in investigating the disappearance of the former head of the research and policy department of Chadema party, Ben Saanane, last November.

"The former chairman of the editor's forum, Absalom Kibanda, was also abducted and tortured until he lost one of his eyes. No one has been arrested to date," Mr Kabwe added.Mr Kibanda was kidnapped in 2013.

CCM's Hussein Bashe said he was once unlawfully arrested and humiliated by state security officials.

"I am a CCM member and I don't care. You can sack me as a member of parliament if you wish," Mr Bashe said.

The government-owned Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance also expressed concern over the government's perceived apathy over abductions.

The commission's chairman Bahame Nyanduga said the failure of the government to bring to justice perpetrators of reported abductions is a shame.

The latest incident that prompted concern happened on April 5, in which Roma Mkatoliki and three other people were abducted at gun point while in a studio at Masaki in Dar es Salaam.

According to a victim's report, the four were bundled into a car, blindfolded and driven to Ununio area on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam where they were held and tortured for 72 hours.

The commission cited other incidents that occurred in the past with perpetrators going unapprehended, including that of a local reporter with Deutsche Welle (DW), Salma Saidi, who was abducted by unknown people at Julius Nyerere International Airport on March 19, 2016.

It was reported that the Zanzibar-based journalist was held for several days while being tortured. Police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators yet.

The commission also made reference to the disappearance of Mr Saanane.

"The commission would like to caution that criminal gangs that take part in forced disappearances, torture, extra-judicial and summary executions is not something that should be tolerated in Tanzania, and the commission doesn't want to believe that our country is heading there," Mr Nyanduga said.

They called on police to arrest and take to court the culprits behind the disappearance of Mr Saanane, and the abduction of Mr Saidi, Mr Mkatoliki and his friends.

The commission has also advised security organs of the state to give assurance to Tanzanians that the perpetrators of those acts are not among them.

The co-ordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition Onesmo ole Ngurumwa said the government must protect its people against abductions and disappearances.

"Currently the lives of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and artists are at great risk," he said.

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