Tanzania: Civil society groups all on UN Human Rights Council to address crackdown on human rights

To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland


Ahead of the 39th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (“the Council”), which will be held from 10-28 September 2018, we write to call on your delegation to deliver statements, both jointly and individually, to address the ongoing crackdown on civic space and human rights back­sliding in the United Republic of Tanzania.

Considering the rapidly declining environment for human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society, jour­na­lists, bloggers, the media and dissenting voices in Tanzania, we, the undersigned non-governmental organisations (NGOs), make a joint appeal to Member and Observer States of the Council. At the 39th session, States should urge the Tanzanian Government to change course, cease any form of intimidation, harassment and attacks against HRDs, journalists, bloggers, and opposition members and their suppor­ters, and amend restrictive laws and regulations with a view to bringing them in line with international human rights standards.

Since 2015, Tanzania has implemented newly-enacted draconian legislation and applied legal and extra-judicial methods to harass HRDs, silence independent journalism and blogging, and restrict freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. 

We call on your delegation to make use of the following agenda items[1] to raise concern, jointly and individually, and to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Tanzanian authorities:

  • General debate (GD) under item 2, following the High Commissioner’s update;
  • General debate under item 3, in relation to reports of the High Commissioner and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR);
  • General debate under item 4;
  • General debate under item 10; and
  • Interactive dialogues (IDs) with the Working Group on arbitrary detention and the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.
  • Additionally, bilateral and collective engagement in multilateral fora such as the Council and at the embassy level, in Tanzania, should be used to raise relevant issues with the Government.

Through these opportunities for dialogue, your delegation can help the Council fulfil its responsibility to “address situations of violations of human rights […] and make recommend­ations thereon” and to “contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies.”[2]

The 39th session should be leveraged to help prevent a further deterioration of the human rights situation in Tanzania and send the Tanzanian Government a message that the international com­munity expects it to uphold its citizens’ human rights, in line with its obligations and the country’s history of openness, engagement, and respect for human rights.

We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information.


  1. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
  2. Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity
  3. ARTICLE 19
  4. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
  5. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
  6. Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center
  7. Сenter for Civil Liberties – Ukraine
  8. CEPO – South Sudan
  9. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  10. Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) – Uganda
  11. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  12. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  13. Conectas Human Rights – Brazil
  14. DefendDefenders (The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  15. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  16. Freedom House
  17. Global Witness
  18. HAKI Africa – Kenya
  19. Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
  20. HURISA – South Africa
  21. International Civil Society Center
  22. JOINT Liga de ONGs em Mocambique – Mozambique
  23. Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka – Burundi
  24. Observatoire des droits de l’homme au Rwanda – Rwanda
  25. Odhikar – Bangladesh
  26. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN)
  27. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  28. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
  29. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  30. Zambia Council for Social Development (ZSCD) – Zambia

[1] See the annex for more detailed proposals for action, as well the report and letter referenced in footnotes 3 and 4.

[2] UN General Assembly resolution 60/251, paras. 3 and 5(f).




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