TANZANIA has refuted claims by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that there is an increasing repression of the democratic and civic space in the country, noting that the released report is far away from the reality on the ground.
On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Michelle Bachelet, when presenting the global human rights update, among other things said the repression of democratic space is also deteriorating the environment for human rights.
But, Government Chief Spokesperson Dr Hassan Abbas strongly rubbished the claim as baseless, saying they are based on the complaints from some people, who have been breaking laws of the land.
Dr Abbas, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, maintained Tanzania’s commitment to continue promoting and protecting democracy and human rights.
“Tanzania has already clarified this in the UN General Assembly, where we explained in detail how human rights are promoted and protected in the country in a way that does not interfere with rights and responsibilities,” he told the ‘Daily News.’
Going forward, he also assured that Tanzania would continue to be a good protector of human rights but not defenders of those who want to use human rights shields to suppress freedom of others.
In her statement, Ms Bachelet also cited the recent Miscellaneous Amendments Act (No. 3) of 2020, saying it undermines strategic litigation and seeks to block government accountability for human rights violations.
She said “Further erosion of human rights could risk grave consequences, and I encourage immediate and sustained preventive action, I also call on the government to uphold the rights of all refugees, and to ensure that any return of refugees be conducted in safety, in dignity and on a voluntary basis.”
The OHCHR’s statement drew immediate response from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, who in an interview with a foreign media, said the government has received the UN report with a great shock as the content doesn’t correspond with the reality.
He was of the view that if the commission was in Tanzania, it wouldn’t have come with a report of such content.
“Right now, we are heading to the general election where there are a total of 15 candidates, who are vying for the presidential seat, all of them are continuing with their campaigns across the country and none of them has been denied such a platform,” he said.
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Going by the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2020 report, Tanzania emerged the most peaceful nation in East Africa and the 7th in sub-Saharan Africa.
For years, Tanzania has maintained peace, which is important for the country’s development, including attracting both domestic and foreign direct investments as well as boosting the tourism sector.
The report ranked Tanzania 54th out of the 163 surveyed countries across the world with Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Canada, Singapore, Slovenia, Japan and Czech Republic ranked as the most peaceful nations.
As Tanzania topped the list in the EAC region, it is followed by Rwanda, which was ranked second in EAC region, but occupied the 17th slot in sub-Saharan region.
Uganda was ranked third in the EAC bloc, but is ranked the 23rd in sub-Saharan Africa, while Kenya became fourth, but ranked the 28th and Burundi comes fifth, but takes the 36th slot, while South Sudan is ranked sixth in the EAC bloc, but the 44th in sub- Saharan Africa.