Positive approaches better, Samia tells rights activists

14May 2022
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Positive approaches better, Samia tells rights activists

​​​​​​​PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday urged global human rights agencies and local civil society organizations to use positive approaches when advocating for changes, saying the government is ready for dialogue.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan receives an award from Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Judge (rtd) Joaquine De Mello in Dar es Salaam yesterday in recognition of her contribution to the protection and administration of human rights and the rule of law during the one year she has been in office. This was during the commemoration of the 10th coalition’s anniversary. Right is Constitutional and Legal Affairs minister Dr Damas Ndumbaro. Photo: State House

Officiating at a ceremony to mark 10 years since the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) was formed, President Samia said positive activism can be more rewarding, urging human rights defenders to seek dialogue instead of the usual confrontation approaches.

“The good thing is that I am a woman and a mother who doesn’t need confrontation. I have told you several times that I need reconciliation which will lead us to reforms which we all want,” she asserted.

The president affirmed that the government is committed to ensuring that human rights are protected, and in doing so the government was collaborating with various stakeholders involved with defending human rights.

She said that respecting human rights was part of development, and it was the reason the government set up a human rights policy in various ways since independence.

THRDC needs to work on sensitizing Tanzanians to know their rights through campaigns, as defending human rights must go together with understanding the constitution, she said, underlining that more should be done on advocating for girls’ and women’s rights on issues like rape to ensure they get their rights and access the doors justice.

Civil society organization need to take up positive approaches in calling for action on their demands as the government was open for dialogue, she said.

The current situation around the world requires openness in organisations as part of the fight against, she said, focusing on the transparency of delivery and use of funds among non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“The government has set up the law requiring transparency in order to know how much has entered the country, how it has been used and the impact on the areas acted upon,” the president explained.

  NGOs were conducting many activities in national development but their results are nowhere to be seen owing to lack of accountability, she said, intoning that it is possible for NGOs and the government to trust one another.

 THRDC has done a commendable job in its 10 years and the period is enough to work together with the government to ensure the issues are taken up and implemented, she affirmed.

Dr Damas Ndumbaro, the minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs listed down a number of decisions which the president has made in the human rights context, including lifting a ban on several newspapers.

The president has criss-crossed the globe in search of funds to improve the lives of Tanzanians in areas like water, health and many others, which are important to human life, he said, while Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud, president of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights said President Samia’s work on human rights had generated waves of appreciation domestically and abroad.

Ten years of THRDC operations provide occasion to see what more needs to be done, safeguarding what has been achieved, and what is to be done, she stated.

“Human rights defending will be not an easy task without media cooperation, therefore it is of paramount importance for defenders to have good relations with this institution mandated to watch over public governance,” she said.

THRDC national coordinator Onesmo ole Ngurumwa said the president’s acceptance of their invitation to officiate at the commemoration was a clear signal that the Head of State was committed to protecting human rights.

Ole Ngurumwa said the network started with four members and had now reached 200 members, with the task in the past ten years chiefly relating to training defenders. The network has also been working on creating strategic human rights defending strategies to facilitate their work, he elaborated.

The government needs to enact legislation to protect defenders from harassment and threats which activists are exposed to in performing their duties, he remarked in the president’s direction.

Hassan Shire, chairman of the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network, gave an overview of the 10 years of THRDC operations, affirming that it had done a tremendous job in safeguarding human rights in the country.

Tanzania ought to seek membership in the United Nations Human Rights Commission and similarly adopt a law to protect human rights defenders, the continental organiser added.