United Republic of Tanzania - Universal Periodic Review
UPR 39, November 5, 2021
Recommendations by Canada
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Canada welcomes the priority Tanzania attaches to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Canada recommends that Tanzania:
- Implement the 2019 decision that the 1971 Law of Marriage Act is revised to set the minimum age of marriage to 18 years for both girls and boys and to make it consistent with the 2009 Law of the Child Act which defines a child as any person below 18;
- Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults;
- Amend the domestic legal framework to ensure respect for the rights to freedom of expression, to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and to trial without undue delay, as guaranteed by the Constitution of Tanzania and international human rights instruments to which Tanzania is a party, and to facilitate their exercise by all Tanzanians, including through civil society organizations, political parties, and the media;
- Uphold the rights of refugee claimants in Tanzania and ensure that those seeking asylum are protected pending status determination, that refugee status determination is conducted in an impartial, fair, and timely manner, and that any repatriation of refugee claimants is conducted in accordance with Tanzania’s international human rights obligations.
Canada welcomes Tanzania’s ongoing efforts to combat female genital mutilation, and the recent announcement that gender desks have been officially incorporated into the Tanzanian Police Force’s General Orders.
Canada welcomes Tanzania’s ongoing participation in the UPR. As a friend to Tanzania for over six decades, Canada remains committed to cooperating with Tanzania on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Since the last UPR in 2016, Tanzania has designated a specific human rights directorate in the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs to coordinate implementation of the 2016 UPR recommendations. It has implemented a National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children and established Gender Desks in police stations countrywide which is an important contribution to combatting gender-based violence. The government has also implemented education policy directives to improve access to education for children with disabilities through the National Strategy for Inclusive Education.
However, despite these positive actions, serious challenges remain. Domestic, regional, and international human rights organizations continue to document the suppression of political opposition, the media, and civil society organizations. Tanzania’s ranking in the Freedom House Global Freedom Index has declined steadily since 2017. In 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights drew attention to the increasing repression of the democratic and civic space in the country. Journalists, political opposition members, and human rights defenders have been threatened, arbitrarily detained, violently attacked, kidnapped, and disappeared. There are concerns about the independence of the judiciary, lengthy detention without trial, and the frequent use of charges for non-bailable offences. The October 2020 general elections were marred by irregularities such as inaccessible polling stations, duplication of votes and limited access to social media websites during the campaign period. Also, the adoption of the Miscellaneous Amendments Act (No. 3) which undermines public interest litigation (a framework that allows individuals to challenge a policy or law) as well as a number of new restrictions imposed on the media, on freedom of expression online, and on non-governmental organizations are of particular concernFootnote 1. A broad range of social media and online posts have been criminalized, including those that support organizing demonstrations or that “promote homosexuality.”
In 2019, Tanzania’s Court of Appeal directed the government to revise the 1971 Law of Marriage Act to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 years for both girls and boys. However, the government has not complied with the ruling. There continue to be credible allegations of human rights violations and abuses perpetrated against members of the LGBTI community including harassment, violence, discrimination, arbitrary arrest, and torture (forced anal exams).
The protection space for refugees and asylum-seekers is becoming more complex, unpredictable, and increasingly inaccessible for those in need of international protection seeking to enter Tanzania. Cases of refoulement are regularly reported, as asylum seekers fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mozambique, and LGBTI Ugandans are turned away by Tanzania at the border. Moreover, there is a disproportionately high rate of refusal of refugee status determinations by Tanzania’s National Eligibility Committee. International human rights organizations continue to express concerns regarding the voluntary nature of returns to Burundi, and report a significant escalation of intimidation and restrictions against refugees, as well as a decrease in livelihood opportunities in Tanzania to drive repatriation.
In March 2021, the former Vice-President Samia Saluhu Hassan succeeded the late President Magufuli in a peaceful transition of power. President Samia has made welcome public statements related to human rights which, if transformed into policy and actioned, would improve the country’s human rights record. For example, she has acknowledged that lengthy pre-trial detention occurs frequently and has instructed law enforcement to dismiss cases lacking substantial evidence and to complete investigations quicker.
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