Hivos: human rights and freedoms violated during Tanzania’s elections

October 29, 2020

Hivos is deeply concerned about the human rights violations witnessed in Tanzania in the period leading up to – and during – the national elections on October 28, 2020.

Reports of widespread irregularities have multiplied, including ballot-box stuffing, a massive Internet shutdown, the suspension of media houses, arrests of candidates, and the alleged harassment and killings of some voters in Zanzibar. This extreme degree of repression relies on a myriad of laws that for a number years have hindered freedom of expression and the ability of critical voices to be heard in Tanzania’s civic space.

Already in the run-up to the elections, these tactics were being used to stifle voices critical of the government, such as opposition leaders on the campaign trail, civil society activists, and outspoken human rights defenders, many of whom have faced criminal charges, harassment and detention.

Human rights record

Tanzania’s human rights record has been on a downhill path since 2015 and worsened significantly ahead of the 2020 elections. This is extremely worrying, considering that the country’s constitution specifically guarantees the rights to equality, privacy, freedom of association, and freedom of expression.

Yet these repressive actions and human rights abuses demonstrate the country’s clear reluctance to uphold its constitutional mandate and its failure to adhere to the principles of the International Human Rights Standards and the African Charter on Human and People Rights.

We therefore call on the Tanzanian government to guarantee the rights enshrined it its own constitution and uphold the international human rights standards that the country committed to through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This means upholding and respecting the dignity of all its citizens.

Hivos joins the international community in calling on Tanzania to advance its commitment to its development agenda in a dignified and humane way. This includes credible investigations into the human rights violations witnessed during the campaigns and election process, and ensuring all voices are heard.