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Lobby pleads for release of human rights defenders

By Alvin Mwangi
Wednesday, May 5th, 2021
Executive Director Haki Africa Hussein Khalid.
In summary

A human rights lobby has petitioned Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu to consider releasing close to 100 human rights defenders and journalists who were allegedly incarcerated for opposing the previous regime.

The lobby, Haki Africa said the 100 people were arrested in the just concluded last year’s elections for expressing reservations in the style of leadership of President John Magufuli.

“ Through this statement, we appeal to you, first as a mother, secondly as a civil society colleague and thirdly as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania to consider releasing and pardoning them. T

his request is keeping in line with your government’s commitment to fulfil obligations under international laws and statutes guarding human rights,” said Executive Director Haki Africa Hussein Khalid.

Khalid said demonstration by President Suluhu last month to release 5,000 inmates was a clear indication of her commitment towards protecting human rights.

Air grievances

“President Uhuru Kenyatta is a listening leader. We are happy that under his regime, human rights defenders will have a space to air their grievances unlike before where numerous arrests was the order of the day,” she said.

On his part, Bradley Ouna from the Concerned Citizens Kenya lauded, President Suluhu for also lifting a ban on some media houses.

“The Ministry of Information, you have a lot on your plate. I hear you banned social media outlets. Lift the ban but ensure they adhere to the law and government regulations,” President Suluhu said last month.

Since Magufuli came to power in 2015, Tanzania has seen a sharp backslide in respect to basic freedoms of association and expression, undermining both media freedoms and civil society.

Authorities have passed new legislation and enforced existing laws that repress independent reporting and restrict the work of media, Non Governmental Organisations  and political opposition groups.

President Suluhu is on a two day official visit in Kenya top of her agenda is to restore bilateral ties between Kenya and Tanzania.