These goodwill gestures should help LHRC function even better

21Jun 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
These goodwill gestures should help LHRC function even better

OUR attention is drawn to recent reports, which are what have prompted these comments, that Tanzania’s Legal and Human Rights Centre is yet again the recipient of an award for a job well done.

According to the reports, which were the basis of a news story we ran on Wednesday, the US-based World Justice Project has picked LHRC for special mention in recognition of the centre’s achievements in devising and executing innovative “solutions” facilitating the advancing of access to justice and the rule of law in Tanzania.

It is specifically noted that the centre was honoured for its outstanding record in addressing legal problems and challenges faced by ordinary citizens unaware of the availability of legal options and remedies and unable to hire legal experts to “fight their cases” on their behalf.

Now, it is on record that LHRC has adopted an array of options aimed at making facilitation of public access to justice a reality, this including training paralegals, sensitising the media and various other prospective agents of change, and providing mobile legal aid services right into some of the remotest corners of the country.

Those who have followed the centre’s history closely enough will find nothing out of the ordinary in all this – precisely in that the centre has always given its mission as striving to empower the public as well as promote, reinforce and safeguard human rights and good governance in Tanzania.

As appears in its own website, LHRC has for long witnessed human rights abuses and violations such as land evictions, with citizens finding themselves in problems mostly owing to ignorance of the law and of their rights – and hence its well-documented role in raising awareness on issues relating to human rights and the need for the citizenry to “wake up” and lawfully fight for those rights.

It is undeniable that LHRC has done much in establishing platforms from and through which people have been airing their views and complaints, most related to abuses of basic human rights.

But, as noted, it has also repeatedly made it right into some remote areas of the country, raising awareness and providing resources to enable the citizens to increase their ability to solve some of their problems amicably, without necessarily engaging in protracted and invariably costly legal battles.

It is no wonder that many link its record as both a human rights watchdog and a flag bearer of sorts with respect to the crusade for human rights in Tanzania and the fact of its having been accorded observer status by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights since 2000.

By striving to empower the people of Tanzania as a way of promoting, reinforcing and safeguarding human rights and good governance in the country, LHRC is fighting for a worthy cause.

We say this primarily because using legal and civic education to create or enhance the awareness of vulnerable or underprivileged victims of human rights violations without doubt contributes positively to national developed and ought to be encouraged and emulated.

It is also noteworthy that the centre, while focusing its efforts to the public, LHRC has been working openly and transparently alongside all manner of stakeholders in seeking to accomplish its mission. These include government ministries, departments and public agencies.

Among the others are Tanzania’s own development partners, UN agencies, CSOs, faith-based organisations, research and training institutions, the media, trade unions, the private sector, and other local and international human rights crusaders.

This is as it should be, and one could well guess that be among the factors behind LHRC’s continued recognition from various quarters as an NGO fighting a worthy cause and fighting it as boldly and transparently as one would expect from an agency of its kind.

The recognition and appreciation the centre has been getting from near and far should serve to motivate it into working even harder and more effectively. We believe they know as much – and will move along accordingly.