Tanzania. Amendments to the law planned to prevent solidarity lawsuits must be rejected

On June 10, 2020, the National Assembly of Tanzania passed a restrictive law, the Miscellaneous Amendments Act (No. 3) of 2020, which amended 13 laws. The law seriously undermines solidarity suits and government accountability for rights violations.

The law now requires a person making a claim under the Fundamental Rights and Duties Enforcement Act (“the Enforcement Act”) to submit an affidavit showing that the breach of the Fundamental Rights and Duties Enforcement Act the law affected the plaintiff personally. This overbroad provision arbitrarily limits the ability of civil society organizations to pursue legal aid and rights-based activities where they have not been personally harmed.

The limitations introduced by the amendments will certainly undermine the vital role that civil society and other independent groups play in promoting and protecting the human rights of vulnerable groups and holding government to account.

The laws also violate Article 26(2) of the Constitution of Tanzania which states that “everyone has the right, in accordance with the procedure provided by law, to institute legal proceedings for the protection of this Constitution and laws of the land.” It further violates internationally recognized best practice that any person, individually or in association with others, has the right to seek an effective remedy before a judicial body or other authority in response to a violation of human rights.

The limitations introduced by the amendments will certainly undermine the vital role that civil society and other independent groups play in promoting and protecting the human rights of vulnerable groups and holding government to account, as they are the main actors leading the public interest litigation initiatives in the country. . As such, these amendments are likely to increase the risks of arbitrary detention, judicial and administrative harassment and other reprisals against real or perceived critics of the Tanzanian government.

ENDS

The Tanzanian government is considering introducing amendments to the country’s laws that will prevent human rights defenders and organizations from bringing cases on behalf of or for the benefit of victims of human rights violations, Amnesty International has learned.

If passed, the proposed amendment – ​​which was before the House’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee today – will require anyone seeking legal redress for human rights violations to prove they have been personally affected.

The proposed amendments are another development that will silence those who cannot afford the costs of a trial or who do not seek justice themselves for fear of reprisals.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for Eastern and Southern Africa

“The proposed amendments are a further step forward that will silence those who cannot afford the costs of a trial or who do not seek justice themselves for fear of reprisals,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa.

“If passed, they will close a much-needed pathway to accountability and likely fuel human rights abuses.”

On June 4, 2020, Tanzania’s Attorney General’s Office sent the proposed bill to parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee ahead of its formal tabling in parliament for wider discussion and passage next week.

Human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations play a vital role in seeking justice, truth and reparations for the voiceless and in promoting respect for human rights.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for Eastern and Southern Africa

Among the laws to be amended is the Fundamental Rights and Duties Enforcement Act, which gives everyone the right of access to the High Court to seek redress for alleged violations of constitutional human rights provisions. man.

These proposed changes come barely a year after Tanzania withdrew the right individuals and NGOs to file complaints directly against the country at the Based in Arusha African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“Human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations play a vital role in seeking justice, truth and reparations for the voiceless and in promoting respect for human rights,” said Deprose Muchena.

The bill also seeks to grant immunity to the president, vice president, prime minister, president, vice president and chief justice for any act of commission or omission in the performance of their duties. This comes at a time when people are increasingly bringing lawsuits against the president and government officials to hold them accountable for their actions, including restricting access to information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This bill can only be read as the Tanzanian government’s attempt to evade accountability by restricting the constitutional rights of the people.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for Eastern and Southern Africa

“This bill can only be read as an attempt by the Tanzanian government to evade accountability by restricting the constitutional rights of the people. The law should always be used to uphold and protect the rights of people rather than suppress them,” said Deprose Muchena.

context

The Tanzanian government has adopted or applied a series of repressive laws to stifle human rights in the country in recent years.