Dullah Omar Institute concerned about arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders in Tanzania

The Dullah Omar Institute is gravely concerned about the arbitrary arrest of thirteen persons, recently carried out by the Tanzanian Police.

 They were arrested on 17 October, after conducting a legal consultation with clients in respect of a case relating to the provision of certain health services to Tanzanian citizens. They were then released on bail but re-arrested on 20 October and are being held in detention without charge.

One of them was Sibongile Ndashe, the Executive Director of the Initiative of Strategic Litigation in Africa. Ms Ndashe is an alumnus of UWC’s Faculty of Law, respected civil society leader who has devoted her career to social justice in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent.

Human rights defenders like Ms Ndashe are essential in Africa’s efforts to build states and societies that respect human rights and the rule of law. They must not be intimidated by unlawful arrests, harassment or other unjust treatment.

During its 50th Session from 24 October to 5 November 2011, in Banjul, The Gambia, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights adopted Resolution 196 on Human Rights Defenders in Africa. In this resolution, the Commission - 

- urges the States to release the human rights defenders who are arbitrarily detained and to put an end to the judicial harassment and other acts of intimidation against human rights defenders;
- encourages the States to take all necessary measures to initiate independent investigations on cases of violations of the rights of human rights defenders so as to prosecute and judge the perpetrators; and
- urges all States to prevent and refrain from all acts of intimidation or reprisal against individuals or groups who seize the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Institute calls on the Tanzanian authorities to respect its own Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which it is a signatory. Both guarantee legal redress when fundamental rights are violated as well as the right to freedom of expression and the right to assembly. It also calls on South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation to do all it can to secure just treatment for Ms Ndashe and her colleagues.

 For more information: Prof Jaap de Visser, Director: Dullah Omar Institute (jdevisser@uwc.ac.za)


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