Dar es Salaam — The human rights situation in Tanzania Mainland has worsened for a period of January to June, 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, a new report released by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) shows.
The Bi-Annual Human Rights Report 2017, covering the first half of the year, cites violations of civil and political rights, particularly the right to life, restrictions on and threats to freedom of expression as among the factors that led to the deterioration of human rights.
Other factors are limitation on the freedom to assembly and increased violence against children.
However, the report shows that there has been slight improvement on the right to education, which was significantly boosted by the introduction of free basic education and the right to life for people with albinism.
Launching the report yesterday, the LHRC executive director, Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, said during the period under review, there were arbitrary arrests and detention of opposition politicians and activists by the police following directives from regional and district commissioners.
"It is this period, when Cloud Media was invaded by the regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam and former information minister Nape Nnauye was denied the right to address the press and a Kiswahili weekly tabloid, Mawio, was slapped with a ban, thus denying citizens the right to information," she said.
Dr Bisimba added: "Kawe MP Halima Mdee, Ubungo mayor Boniface Jacob and journalists in Arusha were also arrested and detained and some of them being prosecuted following the arbitrary directives of the regional and district commissioners. Such incidents put our democracy at the crossroads," she added.
She noted that the LHRC had recommended government officials to refrain from interfering with freedom of expression without reasonable grounds as stipulated by law and stop threatening journalists. According to her, the government should also stop suppressing the opposition through denial of political assembly and that government officials and members of political parties should exercise political tolerance to preserve the country's peace and security.
She said violence against women and children soared to 2,059 rape incidents from January to March, equivalent to 686 per month.
"Iringa, Dar es Salaam and Mbeya are leading regions in sexual violence against children," she pointed out.
Dr Bisimba explained that the LHRC had recommended that the government should declare a state of moratorium, improve death row conditions and prepare for the abolition of death penalty.
The police also should promptly respond to mob violence and witchcraft-related killings and bring perpetrators to justice.
"Law enforcers implicated in extra-judicial killings should be held accountable, the Media Services Act and the Cybercrimes Act should be amended to uphold freedom of expression and the right of expression," she said.
She pointed out that teenage mothers should also be allowed back to school after delivery as the re-entry policy is finalised and adopted, adding that Bills to amend the Law of Marriage Act, 1971 should drop all sections allowing child marriage and the anti-gender based violence (GBV) law should be prepared and tabled in Parliament.
Presenting key findings, LHRC researcher Fundikira Wazambi said a spate of killings in Coast Region targeting local government leaders and police officers posed a great threat to peace and security in the country.