A statement issued by commission chairman Bahame Nyanduga said that Tanzania has no specific policy or legislation that recognize the existence of indigenous people and implementation of their rights as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
He said as world human rights stakeholders mark the 10th anniversary of the declaration, the commission joins them to advocate for their rights in the country.
Nyanduga said that despite the fact that Tanzania voted in favour of the UNDRIP on 13th September 2007 in its call for affirmative and concerted measures to address disadvantaged conditions of indigenous peoples in view of human rights principles enshrined in that instrument, it does not recognize the existence of ‘indigenous peoples’ in the country on grounds that ‘All Tanzanians of African origin are indigenous.’
There are communities in Tanzania, namely Hadzabe and Akiye, who are hunters and gatherers and Barbaig or Datoga and Maasai who are pastoralists, and who meet the UN criteria of indigenous peoples and thus the government needs to acknowledge their existence on the basis of the protocol, he said.
“Over the past decade, there have been challenges regarding the formal recognition of indigenous peoples and implementation of related policies on the ground by governments around the world including Tanzania,” he pointed out.
According to him, Tanzania is among the 144 states which voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) on 13th September 2007.
Since the adoption for the UNDRIP 10 years ago indigenous peoples in Tanzania have continued to face challenges that include absence of legislation recognizing indigenous peoples in Tanzania.
Lack of representation in decision-making bodies at all levels, as well as poor provision of social services such as access to clean and safe water, poor provision of health services and education facilities in indigenous people’s areas are some of the more pernicious problems, he stated.
“The commission therefore recommends that the government ensures an equitable sharing of resources such as land and other natural resources found in indigenous community areas,” the statement underlined.
“The government also needs to hold consultations with indigenous communities whenever implementing development projects so as to obtain their free, prior, and informed consent,” it further noted.
“But also the government has to involve indigenous peoples in planning and decision making on issues that affect their lives,” it added.