By Elias Mhegera – DEFENDERS of human rights in Tanzania have rejected the tendency which ignores human rights violation in this country on the pretext of its peace and tranquility.
Speaking during the opening of a one week workshop for human rights defenders in the New Africa Hotel in Dar es Salaam on Monday this week, the Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Francis Kiwanga said that there many violation of human rights though in subtle forms.
“We cannot ignore violation of human rights simply because they are not reported in the media, we at the LHRC have tones of information in regard to violations which have never reported anywhere,” said Kiwanga.
The human rights activist-cum-lawyer identified areas like employment of children, exploitation by some employers, domestic violence, harassment of journalists and whistle blowers as some of the key challengers in the human rights regime.
“Human rights defenders are always not in good books of the authorities due to the fact that they constantly scrutinize their performance which in a way annoys them” added Kiwanga.
Supporting his boss, Olengurumwa Onesmo also from the LHRC said that one main problem is that a good number of Tanzanians are not even aware of what are their rights which make it even difficult for the human rights defenders to find where to start with.
Olengurumwa said that farmers and pastoralists are the most affected due to the fact that they even do not know where to go when their lands are grabbed by some corrupt bigwigs.
He cited that apart from ignorance some of them in areas where he has been conducting researches particularly in the Southern Highlands and Ngorongoro do not even speak Kiswahili the national language, which makes the situation more complicated.
He says these people are always intimidated by those in power and at times they do see human rights activists and defenders as trouble makers rather their partners.
Earlier Nerida Nthamburi the Program Coordinator, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), said that the human rights defenders should regard their job as a noble obligation despite its security risks.
Without them, she said the society can plunge into chaotic situations leading to social disintegration as it has occurred in Somalia and in the Darfur area in southern Sudan.
“Defense of human rights needs special techniques and commitments but it equally demanding and there are must be volunteers to do this job,” she stated.
Laetitia Bader the Human Rights Officer, Research and Advocacy with the organization said that her that defenders of human rights needs to intervene early before the situation goes out of reach.
She was referring to situations in Somalia, Burundi, and Rwanda where intervention mechanisms came belated where many innocent civilians, women and children had been victimized.
The organization has been working with human rights instruments in over ten countries in order to ensure that there are no violations take places and that the government must be taken accountable from time to time.