Human rights activists on Wednesday denounced Tanzania’s decision to prevent individuals and NGOs from filing a complaint against the government directly to the African Court of Human Rights.
Earlier this month, the Tanzanian government announced that it was withdrawing from a protocol allowing these complaints, saying it had been implemented « contrary to the reservations » made by Tanzania.
According to human rights organizations, the regime of President John Magufuli has eroded freedoms and repressed defenders of rights, the press and the opposition.
« There has been negative information about the human rights situation in Tanzania and this decision can be interpreted as a way to avoid rectifying the situation, » said Onesmo Ole-Ngurumwa, coordinator of the Tanzanian Coalition of Human Rights. human rights defenders, during a press conference.
The government’s decision « prevents Tanzanians from having access to justice in the Arusha-based court » (Tanzania), said Anna Henga of the Center for Legal Affairs and Human Rights at the same conference.
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has been fully operational since 2010, with judges from across the African Union.
Only eight countries have ratified the protocol allowing NGOs and individuals to lodge complaints against governments. Rwanda withdrew from the protocol in 2016.
According to Amnesty International, Tanzania has the largest number of cases brought before the African Court by individuals and NGOs. Of the 70 judgments handed down to September 2019, 28 concerned Tanzania. The NGO estimated Monday that the withdrawal of Tanzania would worsen the crackdown.
« This is further evidence of the growing hostility of the Tanzanian government to human rights defenders and human rights defenders. It undermines the authority and legitimacy of the African Court and is a flagrant betrayal of efforts in Africa to establish strong and credible regional human rights bodies capable of delivering justice and accountability. » said Japhet Biegon head of Amnesty for Africa.