Tanzania: Systematic restrictions on fundamental freedoms in the run-up to national elections

In a letter released today, over 65 civil society organisations highlight systematic restrictions on fundamental freedoms in the run-up to the 28 October 2020 national elections in Tanzania. 

The signatories are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of democracy, human rights and rule of law in the United Republic of Tanzania. “In the past five years, we have documented the steady decline of the country into a state of repression, evidenced by the increased harassment, intimidation, prosecution and persecution of political activists, human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists and media houses; the enactment of restrictive laws; and disregard for rule of law, constitutionalism, as well as regional and international human rights standards. We are deeply concerned that the situation has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic and as the country heads for general elections on 28 October 2020,” they write. 

The letter outlines restrictions independent and critical voices have been facing in Tanzania, echoing concerns raised by African and international human rights bodies and actors. 

“We call on Tanzania to heed the messages delivered by national, African, and international actors and to change course before the country enters a full-fledged human rights crisis, with potentially grave domestic and regional consequences,” the letter concludes. 

 

Read the full letter in English (Swahili version). 

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Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.

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