12 June 2018

Tanzania: Bunge Probe Into Woman's Delivery At Police Station

Dodoma — National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai yesterday ordered a parliamentary investigation into the incident where a woman gave birth unassisted at a police station in Kilombero District.

He said findings of the Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Committee would be presented in Parliament.

Mr Ndugai issued the directive in response to concerns raised by Mr Peter Lijualikali (Kilombero-Chadema), who had asked for the Speaker's guidance after claiming that there was an elaborate plan to hide the truth.

Ms Amina Mbunda, 26, gave birth at Mang'ula Police Station on May 31 after she was arrested by officers searching for her husband, whom they suspected of having bought a stolen bed.

Mr Lijualikali faulted the report issued by the office of the Morogoro Regional Police Commander on Sunday, saying it contained some untruths.

He said the report contradicted the statement Home Affairs deputy minister Hamad Masauni gave in Parliament last Friday, adding that there were attempts to pervert the course of justice.

"Last week, the deputy minister of Home Affairs condemned the incident, but the RPC says categorically that no woman gave birth at the police station. Someone is trying to hide the truth," he said.

Mr Ndugai said the matter had already been brought to Parliament's attention by Mr Joshua Nassari (Arumeru East-Chadema), and Mr Masauni had responded on the government's behalf.

He added, however, that Parliament wanted to get the facts right.

"The time will come for us to know the truth. We're not ready to have a police force that violates the rights of expectant mothers. We expect to get a brief and accurate report from the Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Committee," Mr Ndugai said.

Reached for comment later, Home Affairs minister Mwigulu Nchemba said he was making a follow-up.

"I'm working on the matter, and the government will issue a comprehensive statement after investigations are completed," he said.

Reports from Mang'ula said a heavily pregnant Amina told police officers that her due date had arrived, but they locked her up anyway.

"She began experiencing labour pains as she was being held at the police station, but nobody bothered to take her to the nearest health centre. It was only when officers realised that the situation was about to get out of hand that they panicked and let her out of the cell, but it was too late and she gave birth unassisted outside the police station," an eyewitness said in a post on social media.

Rights groups were unanimous in their condemnation of the incident.

"Shame on the police force," Dr Helen Kijo-Bisimba, executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre, said on Twitter.

"How can someone be arrested for a penal infraction committed by someone else? And how come they didn't realise she was about to give birth? What would have happened if she'd died in that police station?" she queried.

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