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Tanzania

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Last updated on 01.11.2022 at 09:33

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Reprieve proves elusive for Maasai community protesting evictions

Reprieve proves elusive for Maasai community protesting evictions

Pastoralists accused of conspiring to murder government and police officers deployed in a game reserve, and of killing police officer Garlus Mwita in Ololosokwan Village, Ngorongoro District during a protest they held on 10th June 2022, after an arrow was allegedly shot at the officer while he was attempting to demarcate land in Loliondo; East African Court of Justice (EACJ) dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Maasai villagers who claimed that the Tanzanian government used force to evict them from their ancestral grounds; Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered online news outlet DarMpya to suspend its publication over expired licence; Tanzanian Information Minister Nape Nnauye warned against promoting same-sex relations on social media

General Update

In positive developments, on 1st June 2022 the Tanzanian government finally paid Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) politician Tundu Lissu parliamentary dues owed to him for more than three years of service. As previously reported by the Monitor, Lissu was in exile in Belgium following an assassination attempt, making his efforts in claiming benefits and medical costs unsuccessful. Following his February 2022 meeting with President Suluhu in Belgium, Lissu received a call from the Ministry of Finance and Planning  informing him that the benefits he was claiming had been paid to a bank to which he owed money, and he was instructed to write a letter asking them for reimbursement of his medical bills.

In other good developments, in December 2022, The Registrar of Political Parties established a task force responsible for reviewing Tanzania’s constitution which is set to present its final report to President Samia Suluhu. This task force is made up of representatives from several political parties, civil society organisations, academics, the clergy, lawyers and media worker representative groups. Tanzania's present constitution, adopted in 1977 when the country was still a one-party state, has continued to serve as the basis for subsequent elections.

Peaceful Assembly

In June 2022, 25 Maasai pastoralists were charged with murder and conspiracy to murder. The pastoralists were accused of conspiring to murder government and police officers deployed in a game reserve, and of killing police officer Garlus Mwita in Ololosokwan Village, Ngorongoro District during a protest they held on 10th June 2022, after an arrow was allegedly shot at the officer while he was attempting to demarcate land in Loliondo.Several protestors were also injured in this incident. As previously reported by the Monitor, Tanzanian authorities fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters in February 2022 after residents protested the government's intention to evict 167,000 Maasai from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and Loliondo to make way for trophy hunting and elite tourists. 

In a case filed on matters relating to the Maasai evictions in Tanzania, on 30th September 2022, the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Maasai villagers who claimed that the Tanzanian government used force to evict them from their ancestral grounds. The three presiding judges ruled that the case lacked merit,saying the Maasai had failed to prove the eviction had taken place outside the park, therefore rejecting the evidence regarding the use of violence during the eviction exercise. Human rights organisations criticised the ruling, warning it might set a dangerous precedent, driving indigenous peoples away from their land in the name of conservation. 

Expression

On 1st July 2022, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) orderedonline news outlet DarMpya to suspend its publication upon discovering that the outlet's licence had expired in 2021. TRCA noted in a letter that the news outlet had breached the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations. The letter stated that the inspection was conducted in response to concerns about how DarMpya covered a protest, although it did not specify what report.

On 13th September 2022, Tanzanian Information Minister Nape Nnauye warned against promoting same-sex relations on social media. In a press conference held at TCRA headquarters in Dar es Salaam, he stated that they would not tolerate popularising acts against the “established traditions” in Tanzania. Nnauye accused some people of using content related to cartoons popular among children to promote same-sex relationships. 

Peaceful Assembly

Article 20 (1) of the Constitution of Tanzania guarantees the right of peaceful assembly. A notification must be provided to the police 48 hours before holding a demonstration.

Article 20 (1) of the Constitution of Tanzania guarantees the right of peaceful assembly. A notification must be provided to the police 48 hours before holding a demonstration. The police can deny an assembly if it considers the assembly is likely to ‘cause a breach of the peace, prejudice the public safety or public order, be used for any unlawful purpose, or for failure to notify in the required time period.’ The Police Force and Auxiliary Service Act 2002 also establish that an assembly of three or more people, who do not obey orders to disperse when requested, would be classified as an “unlawful assembly”. In practice, sometimes security forces used excessive force to disperse peaceful protestors and even arrest protest organisers.

Expression

The constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression, however this right is undermined by a number of laws including the National Security Act and the recently enacted Statistics Act and Cybercrimes Act that severely curtail media freedoms and access to information.

The constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression, however this right is undermined by a number of laws including the National Security Act and the recently enacted Statistics Act and Cybercrimes Act that severely curtail media freedoms and access to information. In 2016, the Media Services Act was enacted, replacing the problematic Newspaper Act (1976) and the Tanzania News Agency Act (1976). Despite its stated intention to ‘professionalise’ the sector, new Act contains restrictive provisions and has been heavily criticised by media workers and free expression advocates throughout its drafting. In practice, journalists in Tanzania face harassment, threats and detention. Tanzania boasts several independent newspapers and numerous online news-sites and blogs. Nevertheless, government-aligned media dominates the television space. There are no overt restrictions on access to mobile phones or internet technology, but access to a decent internet connection is out of reach for many. As part of the crackdown on the LGBTI community, in 2016 the government announced that it would monitor the social media accounts of citizens who identify as LGBTI, and their followers. The Media Council of Tanzania, a self-regulation body, has been effective at improving standards of journalism while defending the rights of its members in cases where they have been harassed or attacked. The Council documented 20 freedom of expression violations in 2015.