Tanzania - Government concerned with human right issues

Posted by ARASA on December 17, 2013

 From IPPMedia
Angela Kairuki

Tanzania has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Protocol to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa which underscore the government’s commitment to ensure that the rights of women are fully protected. 

Our staff writer PROSPER MAKENE had an exclusive interview with the Deputy Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, ANGELA KAIRUKI shortly after marking the Human Rights Day last week. Read on…

QUESTION: As the world celebrates human rights day, what are Tanzania’s efforts of ensuring that human rights are observed? 

ANSWER: Tanzania began celebrating human rights day in 2008. Since then human rights day has been celebrated annually in the country. Human Rights day celebrations are coordinated by the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance in collaboration with the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs and other government stakeholders.

Human Rights issues were incorporated in the Bill of Rights in Chapter I Part III of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania in 1984. 

Article 30(3) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania stipulates that any person who feels his rights or duties owed to him has been, is being, or is likely to be violated, may institute redress in the High Court.

These rights are enforced through the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act [Cap 3 Revised Edition 2002] where section 4 provides that one can apply to the High Court of Tanzania for redress as follows:

‘If any person alleges that any of the provisions of sections 12 or 29 of the Constitution has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him, he may, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter that is lawfully available, apply to the High Court for redress.’

QUESTION: What are the challenges behind reaching the Government’s targets on ensuring that gender and children rights are attained?

ANSWER: The notable problems in ensuring the full guarantee of women’s rights include: Discriminatory traditions and cultural practices, most notably surrounding inheritance rules, diverse public opinions on the issue of early marriage and marital rape, persistence of FGM, GBV, domestic violence, and forced marriage, enforcement of the law on FGM and other laws that promote women’s rights. 

Efforts by the Government to mitigate these challenges include the Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution explicitly guarantee the right of all Tanzanians, including women, to be free from all forms of discrimination.

Tanzania has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Aagainst Women and the Protocol to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa which underscore the Government’s commitment to ensure that the rights of women are fully protected.

The Tanzania Development Vision 2025 lists “gender equality and empowerment of women in all socio-economic and political relations and cultures” as a target for improving livelihoods of all Tanzanians.

Several Policies have been established to foster gender equality in the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres, including the Women and Gender Development Policy (2000), the National Employment Policy (2007), the Employment Policy (2008), the National Employment Creation Program, and the Youth Employment Action Plan. 

The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has also formulated policies on gender to serve similar purposes. These include the Child Survival Protection and Development Policy (2001), the Zanzibar Youth Development Policy (2005), the Education Policy (2006), and the Women Protection and Equality Policy (2001).

To reduce GBV, the Sexual Offences (Special Provisions) Act of, the Sexual Offences (Special Provisions) Act of 1998 was enacted to safeguard the dignity, integrity, liberty, and security of women. 

The Government developed a National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children, 2001-2015, which provides a framework of actions to be undertaken by stakeholders, including the Government, development partners, NGOs, civil society, and local communities, to prevent and eradicate violence against women and children.

A Multisectoral Committee to End Violence against Women, Children and Persons with Albinism was launched in 2011 along with a multi-sectoral action plan. 

The notable problems in protecting children’s rights include: Poverty, Child labour, Early marriage, Early pregnancy, Domestic violence and violence against children, Street children and orphans, typically resulting from the death of a parent or parents from AIDS-related diseases.

Budget constraints preventing the full implementation of programming aimed at remedying deficiencies in children’s rights, lack of awareness, leading to ineffective implementation of the Law of the Child Act and child rights and high incidents of school dropout, especially among girls. 

Efforts by the Government to mitigate these challenges include
In 2009 the Government enacted the Law of the Child Act, which implements Tanzania’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child by establishing the rights granted to children, streamlining and reforming the legal system to effectively protect these rights, and providing guidelines for child welfare, custody and employment. 

The Law of the Child Act 2009 covers issues of maintenance, care, custody and education of children. It is lauded as an example of productive outcomes when civil society, development partners and the Government work amicably to further and strengthen human rights. 

Section 5 stipulates a child should live free from any discrimination while Section 8 provides for the maintenance of a child and Section 12 protects a child from harmful employment.

In Zanzibar, the Child’s Act was adopted in 2011. These laws provide guidelines for addressing issues of juvenile justice and children in conflict with the law.

In 2011, the Government launched the Violence Against Children (VAC) survey. This survey has stimulated the action required to build a comprehensive national child protection system to prevent and respond to all forms of violence and abuse against children, in line with the Law of the Child Act.

QUESTION: Right to life is one of the rights that belong to anyone no matter the race, colour or tribe, what is the government doing in ensuring that the death penalty is no more in the country?

ANSWER: The Right to life is a basic human right provided for in Article 14 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 which stipulates that “Every person has the right to live and the protection of his life by the society in accordance with the law”.

The United Republic of Tanzania is aware of the international trend towards abolition of death penalty. However, it is still in our statute and convicts of offence of murder and treason under the Penal Code Cap [16 RE 2002] of the laws. 
Tanzania has been exercising a de facto-moratorium on execution for more than 18 years now. 

Regardless, research was conducted by the Government through the Law Reform Commission in 2008 and 2009 and the findings revealed that though there is divided opinion over the death penalty, the majority of the people still support retention of the death penalty. 

Abolition of death penalty is further constrained by the heinous acts of Albino killings too, for albinos and other people strongly support the retention of death penalty for convicts of Albino murderers. 
The Government has taken heed of the global trend of abolition and continues to educate its people on the death penalty.

QUESTION: What do Tanzanians expect from the new Constitution promoting human rights in the country?

ANSWER: As the Constitution has incorporated the views and opinions of the people, the people have great expectations that their rights will be protected under the new Constitution as it is of their own making.

The making of the new constitution has given great priority and consideration to the participatory principle of the people as an examination of The Constitution Review Act, [Cap.83 R.E 2012]: provides for the establishment of the Constitutional Review Commission for purposes of co-ordination and collection of public opinions on the Constitution; to examine and analyse public opinions; to provide for fora for constitutional review; to provide for preparation and submission of report on the public opinions; to provide for the procedure to constitute the Constituent Assembly and the conduct of referendum which is governed by the recenlty enacted law on referendum. 

On the 3rd June, 2013 the Commission produced and disseminated a first draft of the new Constitution for purposes of holding various fora aimed at collecting further public opinion on the Draft Constitution.
Therefore it can be seen how the people are indeed the authors of the Constitution

QUESTION: Will the first National Human Rights Action Plan in Tanzania be implemented with the support and participation of all citizens and government institutions?

ANSWER: The implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan was already ongoing through Government activities and should not be looked at in isolation and separate from other development processes. 

For example the Tanzanian Development Vision 2025 which will have t attributes like high quality live-hood, good governance, peace, stability and unity, a well educated and learning society and a competitive economy capable of producing sustainable growth and shared benefits. 

The added value is that the National Human Rights Action Plan helps to ensure the national development strategies are well informed by the human rights based approach, whereby human rights are mainstreamed in the development agenda. In so doing, the Action Plan strengthened duty bearers acknowledgment and accountability with regard to human rights through various capacity building initiatives.

The people were involved in preparing the Action Plan as follows:
-The field visits in Ten Regions of Tanzania where the public aired their views, therefore the contents of the NHRAP is the outcome of collaborative views and discussions of various stakeholders inclduding the Government

-There was engagement of various Government Institutions, Civil Society Organisations And Academia including Tanzania Women Lawyers' Association and Legal and Human Rights Centre to mention a few.

In the same way the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan will involve collaborative efforts among various stakeholders.

The implementation of the Action Plan has effectively commenced since the launching of the NHRAP which was held on the 10th December, 2013 and it will run from 2013-2017 after which there shall be a review.

QUESTION: Human Rights will only flourish when we all bestow dignity and respect on each other. As the Deputy Minister in charge, what are your comments to ensure that human dignity and respect are valued?

ANSWER: This is a Constitutional matter provided under Article 12(2) of the Constitution which provides that every individual is entitled to recognition, and respect for his dignity.
Furthermore, the Basic Rights and Duties Act -Cap. 3 Revised Edition of 2002, provides for the enforcement of human rights provided in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania including the provision and preservation of ones' dignity.

QUESTION: A society’s respect for human rights can only be fully judged on its respect for the rights of minorities, namely people with disabilities, including people living with albinism, indigenous people. What does the government plan to ensure that the rights of these groups are attained?

ANSWER: The Government has taken legislative action to ensure the rights of these groups are attained.

The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2010 makes provisions for the health care, social support, accessibility , rehabilitation , education and vocational training , communication , employment or work protection and promotion of basic rights for persons with disabilities. The Act cover issues of special needs which require investment in infrastructure, human resources and new technologies.

Despite these monetary constraint, the Government of Tanzania wholeheartedly is committed to alleviate the impediments people with disabilities face in Tanzania.

The killings of people with albinism: The government has taken a number of measures to contain the situation, since the killings and other grave acts started in 2007. Until January 2011, a total of 54 incidents were reported. 

On the legislative measures, the government strives to fight against ill acts carried out against people with albinism by adopting a number of mechanisms including; the Penal Code Cap.16 of the Laws which provides for the offence of murder under section 196, attempted murder under section 211, accessory after the fact to murder under section 196, attempted murder under section 213, conspiracy to murder section 215, being in possession of human being parts under section 222A.

On administrative measures offenders have been arrested, Fast tracking of investigations and prosecutions, Formation of District and Regional Task Forces to spear head these efforts, Provision of shelters to victims, Cancellation of business licenses for traditional healers in view of the fact that the problem is connected with witchcraft beliefs and an example of this, was the suspension of traditional healers’ licences in 2008, 
In 2009, four (4) cases were tried by the High Court of Tanzania, the accused persons were found guilty and convicted accordingly.

QUESTION: Transparency and accountability is one of the main human rights principles, but many African governments failed to attain this principle, what are your comments on this?

ANSWER: It is a challenge faced by many African Countries and the United Republic of Tanzania has made great strides in maintaining the principles of transparency and accountability in Government operations.

For example, the government went through the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism before the Human Rights Council which is a transparent method of evaluating the Governments' human rights achievements and challenges. The Tanzania's UPR Report was considered in 2011 and adopted in March, 2012.

Furthermore, Tanzania in good faith and in the spirit of transparency and accountability underwent the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

QUESTION: What does the government achieve on a girl’s rights to education? 

ANSWER: The Right to education is guaranteed under article 11(2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 as a fundamental objective and directive principal of State Policy.
Furthermore, the education of children including the girl child has been prioritised in the national development programs such as MKUKUTA I and II.

QUESTION: What are the government plans on fights against the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

ANSWER: FGM is punishable under the Penal Code [Cap 16 RE 2002] 
Also, NGO’s supplement governments efforts through educating the 
public on the detriments of Female Genital Mutilation.