Committee to Protect Journalists - Africa joins call for UN Human Rights Council to address crackdown in Tanzania
The Committee to Protect Journalists and 29 other civil society groups yesterday wrote to the member and observer states of the United Nations Human Rights Council urging them to address the deteriorating situation for human rights, including freedom of the press, in Tanzania during the upcoming 39th session of the council in September.
Since 2015, journalists and bloggers in Tanzania , as well as human rights defenders and members of the political opposition, have been targeted with draconian legislation and both legal and extra-legal measures by the government. Under these conditions, freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association have been deeply eroded.
The letter below:
To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland
Ahead of the 39th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (“the Council”), which will be held from 10-28 September 2018, we write to call on your delegation to deliver statements, both jointly and individually, to address the ongoing crackdown on civic space and human rights backsliding in the United Republic of Tanzania.
Considering the rapidly declining environment for human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society, journalists, bloggers, the media and dissenting voices in Tanzania, we, the undersigned non-governmental organisations (NGOs), make a joint appeal to Member and Observer States of the Council. At the 39th session, States should urge the Tanzanian Government to change course, cease any form of intimidation, harassment and attacks against HRDs, journalists, bloggers, and opposition members and their supporters, and amend restrictive laws and regulations with a view to bringing them in line with international human rights standards.
Since 2015, Tanzania has implemented newly-enacted draconian legislation and applied legal and extra-judicial methods to harass HRDs, silence independent journalism and blogging, and restrict freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.
We call on your delegation to make use of the following agenda items  to raise concern, jointly and individually, and to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Tanzanian authorities:
- General debate (GD) under item 2, following the High Commissioner’s update;
- General debate under item 3, in relation to reports of the High Commissioner and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR);
- General debate under item 4;
- General debate under item 10; and
- Interactive dialogues (IDs) with the Working Group on arbitrary detention and the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.
- Additionally, bilateral and collective engagement in multilateral fora such as the Council and at the embassy level, in Tanzania, should be used to raise relevant issues with the Government.
Through these opportunities for dialogue, your delegation can help the Council fulfil its responsibility to “address situations of violations of human rights […] and make recommendations thereon” and to “contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies.” 
The 39th session should be leveraged to help prevent a further deterioration of the human rights situation in Tanzania and send the Tanzanian Government a message that the international community expects it to uphold its citizens’ human rights, in line with its obligations and the country’s history of openness, engagement, and respect for human rights.
We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information.
- African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
- Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity
- ARTICLE 19
- Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
- Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
- Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center
- Сenter for Civil Liberties – Ukraine
- CEPO – South Sudan
- CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
- Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) – Uganda
- Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
- Conectas Human Rights – Brazil
- DefendDefenders (The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
- FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
- Freedom House
- Global Witness
- HAKI Africa – Kenya
- Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
- HURISA – South Africa
- International Civil Society Center
- JOINT Liga de ONGs em Mocambique – Mozambique
- Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka – Burundi
- Observatoire des droits de l’homme au Rwanda – Rwanda
- Odhikar – Bangladesh
- Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN)
- Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
- Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
- World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
- Zambia Council for Social Development (ZSCD) – Zambia