Activists accuse police of violating suspects’ rights

25Jul 2016
Devota Mwachang'a
The Guardian
Activists accuse police of violating suspects’ rights

HUMAN rights activists have accused the police force of violating suspects’ rights, saying that seven land rights campaigners accused of espionage in Loliondo, Arusha Region have been held in custody for nine days and were denied bail and legal representation.

The main opposition in Zanzibar, Civic United Front (CUF), is embroiled in a scuffle with the office of the directorate of public prosecutions (DPP) with claims that its arrested members have been
denied bail and legal representation.

Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday national coordinator of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) Onesmo Olengurumwa said the coalition in collaboration with Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) learnt that seven people were being held in police custody for nine days accused of spying offence.

Olengurumwa said they were told that the accused were arrested for allegedly engaging in communication with a Swedish blogger, Susana Nurduland who is a champion in reporting on violations of human rights and land disputes that occur in Loliondo.

“We request the police in Arusha and other security organs to release the suspects who are still in custody for more than a week or take them to court because denial of bail and legal representation is against the law,” he said.

When The Guardian contacted Arusha Regional Police Commander, Charles Mkumbo, he said that three of the suspects will be arraigned in court today. He said the interrogation on the three accused was complete but did not avail their names.

The officer said others were still in custody for further interrogation and will be taken to court when investigations are complete.

“This is case is very important. Police are continuing with interrogation of the suspects and three of them will be taken to court tomorrow (today),” he said.

Olengurumwa named the accused still being held in custody as former lawmaker Mathew Oletiman, Ward councilors Yanick Ndonyo and Ndina Timan, chairman of Mundoros local government Joshua Makko, director of Ngorongoro Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) network Samweli Nangiria and two other activists Supuk ole Maoi and Clinton Kairung.

He appealed to international human rights stakeholders and the judiciary to intervene and condemn the violation of human rights and for advocates to unite and fight for their rights to legally represent people without giving up.
LHRC advocate Hamis Mkindi said what is happening unconstitutional and should not be condoned.