June 26, 2019
Today the world is commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
International day in support of victims of torture is celebrated on June 26 every year. This is the day which was selected by the United Nation to speak out against the crime of torture and honor and support victims and survivors throughout the world. This day was selected by the United Nations for two major reasons: first, 26 June 1945 is when the United Nation Charter was signed; and the second reasons is the fact that the same date in the year 1987, the United Nation Convention against Torture (UNCAT) came into effect. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the day has been declared a public holiday in honor of the victims of torture.
Tanzania is part of the many major international instruments on the protection of human rights. It is the duty of every country to protect its people as required by the convention; that states should take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and states are forbidden from transport people to any country where there is the reason to believe they will be tortured.
The UNCAT is ratified by almost all countries in Africa except four which are Angola, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. However, Angola and Sudan have signed the convention but have not yet ratified; Tanzania and Zimbabwe have neither signed nor ratified. Another interesting fact about UNCAT is that there are only 30 states in the world that have not ratified this convention as of this June 2019. Most of these states are the small island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
In Tanzania, torture is clearly prohibited under national laws but not criminalized. Article 13(6)(e) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977 prohibits any kind of torture. Section 55(1) and (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1985 prohibits torture of any person under restraint and further section 27 of the Evident Act, 1967 provides that any evidence obtained by way of torture is inadmissible.
Moreover, Tanzania is one of the few countries in Africa that have not ratified the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) which prevents the country from having to meet international standards and obligations in this area. Tanzania failure to sign and ratify this convention sends a very bad message to the international community.
Failure of Tanzania to ratify the convention does not mean Tanzania has been heaven free from torture. We have experienced the number of incidents of torture including the ones that occurred during the anti-poaching operation commonly known as operation tokomeza and that of illegal immigrants. There are so many incidents of tortures in Tanzania documented and undocumented. Most of these tortures are carried in police stations and some other areas while the victims are under the state agencies and under restraint.
There is no justification for Tanzania not ratifying UNCAT. It is time now to raise voice for the convention to be ratified and eventually be part of the laws of Tanzania.
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