Nairobi, Kampala, Gaborone, London 16th November 2020: The Panel of Eminent Persons monitoring the Tanzania 2020 General Elections strongly condemn the continued detention and violence against Tanzanian citizens in the post-election phase.
The Panel would like to call on the Tanzanian authorities to uphold and respect the rights of citizens of Tanzania to liberty, freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly as provided under the Constitution as well as numerous international treaties to which Tanzania is a party.
The Panel notes with concern the continued detention of various leaders of political parties throughout Tanzania. Reports of the arrests of many leaders, reported mainly by opposition political parties in both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, point to a declining respect for civil liberties in Tanzania in contravention of national and international law. The Panel is concerned about the charging of several opposition party members and leaders throughout the country with economic crimes. Recent reports in Zanzibar of the shooting in broad daylight of the ACT Wazalendo Party local branch leader risks throwing the country into a fearful post-election environment inconsistent with the country’s democratic aspirations. Such an environment significantly hinders the right to public participation enshrined in Article 13 of the African Charter as well as Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Article 32 of Tanzania’s Criminal Procedure Act provides that (1) When any person has been taken into custody without a warrant for an offence other than an offence punishable with death, the officer in charge of the police station to which he is brought may, in any case, and shall if it does not appear practicable to bring him before an appropriate court within twenty-four hours after he was so taken into custody, inquire into the case and, unless the offence appears to that officer to be of a serious nature, release the person on his executing a bond. The Panel is concerned by the continued violation of the law in view of the recent reports of detentions. The Panel calls upon the Tanzanian authorities to address the impunity thus demonstrated, by releasing the political detainees or charge them as required by the law.
The Panel notes with concern recent reports of politicians and civil society leaders fleeing the country out of concern for their safety.
The reports are a continuation of what appears to be a targeted persecution of politicians and civil society leaders in the country based on their political inclinations.
These persecutions set a dangerous precedent for the continued enjoyment of civil liberties, peace, and national unity. In a democratic society, politicians and citizens should be free to exercise their choice of political ideology without fear or favor. Tanzania must uphold the right of its citizens including opposition to freely exercise their freedoms provided by Article 12 of the constitution.
The continued enjoyment of basic freedoms including the right to freely express, assemble and associate is central to the democratic ideals stipulated in Article 3 of the country’s Cconstitution. For Tanzania’s fulfillment and the realization of the promise of democracy to take root, it is imperative for Tanzania’s authorities to act in total fidelity to the Tanzanian laws, Constitution and regional and international treaties to which the
country has signed and ratified.
We call on the international community to join us in reminding the Tanzanian government of its obligations under national and international law to uphold fundamental freedoms and rights provided under national and international laws. We urge the international community to urge President John Pombe Magufuli to ensure that peace and stability prevail in Tanzania by upholding the rule of law and electoral justice.