Demolitions victims should be paid, human rights body asserts

09Nov 2017
Crispin Gerald
The Guardian
Demolitions victims should be paid, human rights body asserts

THE Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) yesterday called for victims of the recent demolitions of structures built on railway reserves to be compensated because the exercise was conducted in violation of human rights and the national constitution.

CHRGG chairman Bahame Nyanduga

Presenting its final verdict on a petition lodged by a committee representing victims whose houses were bulldozed by the Reli Assets Holding Company (RAHCO), CHRGG chairman Bahame Nyanduga directed that estimates of losses be carried out and victims compensated accordingly. 

“Section 6(1) of the Commission Act No. 7, 2001 gives mandate to the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance to stop any violation or negligence of human rights and principles of good governance, and also to order for compensation of victims,” said Nyanduga.  

In March this year, the government through RAHCO conducted a demolition exercise targeting structures located within railway reserves in Dar es Salaam.  CHRGG asked the company to stop the exercise and hold an audience with the commission first to discuss public complaints submitted to the commission against the exercise.

However, RAHCO knowingly violated the call for a meeting and instead went ahead with the demolition exercise on behalf of the government.

According to Nyanduga, RAHCO directly violated section 4 of the Railway Act of 2002, section 3(1) of the Land Act, and section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act by conducting the demolitions exercise without following legal procedures.

“The authority, in collaboration with the police force and Hepautwa Investment and General Brokers Ltd, has also violated section 24 (1 and 2), 12 (2), 16 (1 and 2) and 26 (1 and 2) of the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania,” he added.

The committee representing 72 victims of bulldozed houses in Dar es Salaam’s Mnyamani area lodged three complaints with CHRGG, including destruction of properties contrary to section 24(1) and (2) of the constitution.

The second complaint was violation and denial of respect to dignity contrary to section 12(2) and 16(1&2) of the constitution, while the third complaint was the failure to protect and advocate for civil rights, and exercise good governance contrary to section 26(1&2) of the constitution.

Nyanduga  explained that RAHCO in July last year requested the Ilala municipal council to add an extra 15 kilometres to the initial 15km boundary within the railway strip, for the purpose of expanding the government’s major standard gauge railway project.

He added that the authority violated the law by conducting illegal demolitions without issuing compensation to the victims of the exercise, contrary to an initial agreement to compensate them.

He noted that during the petition hearing, an expert witness from the Ilala municipal council testified that RAHCO did not collaborate with council in the whole process of demolitions.      

An intensive investigation, including interviews of various people, established that the 72 demolished houses were outside the railway reserve and RAHCO had no mandate to demolish them without following laws and procedures, the CHRGG chairman stated.

“The evidence delivered to the commission from both sides proves that condemned area of Mnyamani was legally known and registered, with several residents in the area possessing residence licences,” he further explained.

The commission called on the government and its agencies to respect all rights listed in international and regional conventions on human rights which the country has ratified.   

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