Dear readers, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) is pleased to present to you this annual progress report for the year 2017. Under this reporting year, LHRC, like other organizations in the country, experienced a changed socio-political and legal environment as it strived to perform its duties.
Some of the laws enacted in recent years had come into force and become operational, affecting effective realization of human rights. Such laws include the Media Services Act, Cybercrimes Act and Statistics Act. There were changes in how organizations operate at community level, including the requirement of seeking permission at ministerial level. These indications were observed and necessitated LHRC to change how it works, hence producing a revised work plan.
2017 was the second year of the 5th phase Government in Tanzania and the first year of LHRC’s revised plan. This year witnessed increased human rights injustices in the country, which meant more work for LHRC. There were unprecedented realities such as killings of at least 40 people in Kibiti, Mkuranga and Rufiji in Pwani Region, including political and government leaders, in police officers, and some local community members. Unfortunately, there was no information as to what was the source or cause of such killings. The attempted assassination of Hon. Tundu Lissu, MP for Singida North and the President of the Tanganyika Law Society, was yet another unusual human rights incident, which came as a big shock to the people of Tanzania in 2017; and until the end of the year the culprits were still unknown. There were claims that unknown people attempted to kill the MP, pouring 38 bullets on him as he arrived at his residence in Dodoma. Disappearance of people was also another issue which went unattended and raised a lot of concern as to what was happening in the country. For instance, Mr. Azori Gwanda, an investigative journalist, went missing in November 2017 and by the time of completion of this report he was still missing. His mysterious disappearance follows that of Mr. Ben Saanane, who went missing in November2016 and there was still no clue of his whereabouts by the end of 2017!
The phrase of ‘watu wasiojulikana’ (unknown people) became common in 2017. These unknown people have shaken the nation because grave human rights violations were attributed to them. Sadly, no one was charged although the police and other law enforcement organs informed the public that ‘unknown people’ were responsible. As a result, LHRC took various initiatives, such as issuing statements and engaging authorities to demand justice and accountability.
In improving access to justice LHRC continued to vigorously provide legal assistance, whereby more than 16,000 clients were assisted in Dar es Salaam and Arusha, as well as in Mbinga and Kiteto, through mobile legal aid clinics. The trend shows that land, labour and matrimonial cases are still very common. LHRC continues to advocate more on those issues and others in a bid to attain a just and equitable Tanzania.
The good work done by LHRC could not be possible without the generous support from our partners; the Swedish Embassy, through SIDA; the Royal Norwegian Embassy; Open Society for Eastern Africa (OSIEA); the Finnish Embassy; Sage Foundation; the Legal Services Facility (LSF); the UN Trust Fund; the International Centre for Non Profit Law (ICNL); and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), among others.
We are very grateful for the continued support from these partners. Also, we would like to express our gratitude to human rights monitors and paralegals who tirelessly volunteer to inform us about human rights issues across the country, as well as providing legal assistance and raising awareness on human rights at community level.
Kindly take time to read this report, which contains information on the work done by LHRC to promote human rights in Tanzania in 2017.
Professor Geoffrey Mmari
Board Chairperson, LHRC
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