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Ahead of Samia’s UNGA Address, Right Body Calls for Laws Restricting People’s Freedoms in Tanzania to Be Amended

It includes laws governing media and NGO operations in Tanzania as well as those governing police operations and other security organs.

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Dar es Salaam. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), a Washington, D.C.-based non-governmental organization that works in over 100 countries to improve the legal environment for civil society, has named a total of thirteen pieces of legislations enforceable in Tanzania, recommending President Samia Suluhu Hassan amend them because they impinge on people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.

ICNL’s calls for legislative reforms comes ahead of today’s scheduled address by President Samia at the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, US where she is expected to tout the economic and political reforms implemented by her administration nearly seven months since she came to power on March 19, 2021, following the sudden death of her predecessor John Magufuli.

According to ICNL’s some of the laws that the Samia Administration needs to improve in line with the internationally recognized human rights standards are Media Services Act, 2015; Cybercrimes Act, 2015 and Cybercrimes Regulations, 2016; Statistics Act, 2003 (as amended); and Tanzania Communications Regulatory Act, 2003.

Others are Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Act, 2018, and Regulations, 2020 (as amended); Film and Stage Plays Act, 1976; Guidelines for Non-Governmental Organizations in Mainland Tanzania (2020); the Non-Governmental Organizations Act, 2002; the Non-Governmental Organizations Act (Amendments) Regulations, 2019; Police Force and Auxiliary Act, 2002; Access to Information Act, 2015; Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act, 2020 (as amended); as well as laws affecting national security.

ICNL wants the legislation amended for they have negative implications towards people’s fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression; freedom of the press; freedom of association, including CSO operations in Tanzania; freedom of peaceful assembly; access to information; and access to justice.

Among other recommendations, ICNL wants the laws amended in such a way that the publication of false information or information that threatens public interests is decriminalized. It also wants authorities to make the journalist accreditation requirement optional unlike now where it is mandatory. Authorities should ensure that NGOs are free to determine their objectives and activities.

The release of the ICNL’s call for legislative reform on Thursday coincided with an online campaign that highlights fundamental flaws in Tanzania’s political system. Trending under the #TellSamiaSuluhu and #FreeTanzania slogans, the campaign emphasizes respect for the rule of law and other democratic principles that its organizers think are lacking under the Samia Administration.

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