Thursday, January 5, 2017

We are firmly committed to human rights, reaffirms VP

TANZANIA has reaffirmed her firm commitment to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without compromising the national security.  The country’s stance came as the world was celebrating the 2016 Human Rights Day, under the theme: "Stand up for someone's rights today.” The international community observes the Day yearly on December 10, commemorating the day UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. “We, in Tanzania, promise to implement this treaty by the United Nations (UN), but cautiously, lest the national security be compromised,” Vice-President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, said when she officiated at the National Integrity Day and International Human Rights Day. Seven government institutions responsible for supervising integrity, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau, National Audit Office of Tanzania, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, Ethics Secretariat and Public Service Management and Good Governance, organised the event that also marked a month long campaign against corruption and instilling integrity among public servants. UN Resident Coordinator Alvaro Rodriguez commended Tanzania for her reflection of human rights issues during the day's commemoration. “I call upon you to stand for the rights of someone else,” he told the crowd at the Mnazi Mmoja grounds where the national celebrations were held. Chairman of the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG), Bahame Nyanduga, said Tanzania has been a good defender of human rights even beyond the country's borders. The country has gained great respect because of its principles on rights and equality, accountability and integrity in the public service sector, he said, arguing that for the country to realise this year’s theme for the day, emphasis was put on integrity, accountability, good governance and fight against corruption. The UN has decried widespread disrespect for basic human rights, globally, with extremist movements subjecting hapless people to horrific violence and sufferings. “We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, at school, at work, in public transport, in the voting booth, on social media ...” insists the UN, appealing to individuals to step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, a woman, a child, indigenous people, a minority group or anyone at the risk of discrimination or violence. Meanwhile, ISSA YUSSUF reports from Zanzibar that President Ali Mohamed Shein yesterday graced the day, directing all public leaders to declare their assets and debts as the law requires. “All leaders must honestly fill the personal assets and debts declaration forms and submit them to the respective body,” said Dr Shein in a speech at the event at Victoria Garden, Stone Town, warning those dodging the exercise in the Islands. He threatened stern disciplinary action against all officials defying the legal requirement, saying the Zanzibar Public Leaders Code of Ethics and Ethics Commission was introduced this year to promote moral codes and respect of Human Rights in public offices. The law, among others, requires national leaders, including the Vice-Presidents, ministers, principal secretaries, local government leaders, all executives and senior leaders in all parastatal organisations to declare their assets and debts. “We still have moral decay, economic crimes, lack of accountability and corruption in the country ... concerted efforts are required to address these challenges,”Dr Shein said, asking the Director of Public Prosecution office, Judiciary, Zanzibar Anticorruption and Economic Crime Authority and law enforcers to work together to ensure justice prevails in the islands. The Minister of constitution, Legal Affairs, Public Service and Good Governance, Mr Haroun Ali Suleiman, said at the event that attracted lawyers, civil servants, journalists and citizens that his ministry is committed to improve morality, fight corruption and respect human rights. The Head of the UN Sub-Office in Zanzibar, Ms Anna Senga, commended President Shein for his efforts to promote Human Rights in the Islands, quoting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s statement on the day, “Wherever we are, each of us can make a difference for human rights ... in our neighbourhoods, in school, at work, on social media, at home and even in sporting arenas across the world.”

Samia officiates new weapon for triumphant anti-graft crusade

ANTI-GRAFT crusade was intensified i early last year with the launch of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP III)’s third phase through which the government seeks to improve public service delivery. Vice-President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, officiated at the five-year plan in Dar es Salaam, asking the government institutions responsible for the implementation of the NACSAP III to clean themselves before starting dealing with others in the fight against corruption. “First take the plank out of your own eye and then you will clearly see and remove the speck from your brother's eye,” she said, quoting a verse in the Bible. Ms Samia said execution of the 2015 Development Vision will succeed should the public servants perform their duties by embracing integrity and getting rid of corrupt practices, charging that Tanzanians had previously experienced massive abuse of their rights due to corruption. “It was normal to hear about people having their lands grabbed due to rampant corruption among the government officials,” she noted with concern, explaining further that the country has been losing investors due to corruption. Government leaders, she charged, used to force prospective investors to corrupt them as a condition to handle their applications for investments in the country, “... as a result the country lost potential investors who were against corruption ... we will ensure that this situation comes to an end.” She called on the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) to closely monitor execution of government funded projects, saying waiting for the project completion is an ineffective strategy to curb embezzlement of public resources. PCCB Director General, Mr Valentino Mlowola, noted that with NACSAP III, the fight against the vice will be speeded up, assuring better services to the citizens. “Compared to the first and second strategic plans, we have come up with improvements that will see us winning the war,” he said. Among others, he said, under NACSAP III all the private and public sectors as well as the general public will be taken on board in its implementation. The document has put in place mechanism for regular assessment of the plan implementation to ensure that it yields the desired results. The NACSAP II, implemented between 2008 and 2011, aimed at building on the achievements of NACSAP I and addressing challenges encountered earlier by becoming more focused, robust, relevant and inclusive. In collaboration with other anti-corruption stakeholders, the programme helped to set up, organise and mainstream sustainable mechanisms and responses against corruption with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) as the main financier and technical partner. NACSAP II also sought to complement and integrate anticorruption strategies into the core public sector reforms like the Public Sector Reform Programme, Legal Sector Reform Programme, Local Government Reform Programme and Public Financial Management Reform Programme, in strengthening and instituting good governance, transparency, accountability, integrity, efficiency and improved public service delivery.

Magufuli refutes fabricated reports about Dangote

In early December last year, President John Magufuli met the owner of Mtwara-based Dangote Cement plant, proving wrong the widely fabricated claims that there was a dispute pitting the government against the investor. Billionaire Alhaji Aliko Dangote travelled from Nigeria to Dar es Salaam to sort out the mess, which was mainly exacerbated by wicked people bent on frustrating the project for personal interest. During the talks at State House in Dar es Salaam, Dr Magufuli assured the investor that his administration will continue creating favorable environment for all investors in the country to catalyze industrialization drive. He said there has never been any problem with the Mtwarabased cement manufacturer as recently reported in the media, accusing people bent on dubiously benefiting from the coal supply business of engineering the destructive information. The president assured the investor that he will directly procure the natural gas from the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) instead of sourcing it from middlemen. "You should always consult the government in case you face any problem or you need any information instead of using people who are after profit making,” said Dr Magufuli, explaining that Mr Dangote had requested for land but dishonesty people wanted to cash in his demand by selling him a plot for 43bn/-, which the president described as pure greed and unfair. 

President Magufuli gestures as he makes a point before the owner of the giant cement plant a Nigerian national Mr. Dangote standing on his left during press briefing in Dar es Salaam last year.

Mr Dangote dismissed as trash the recently widespread media reports that he had closed down the cement plant due to the government ban on the importation of coal, saying, “It does not make sense because Tanzanian coal is not only cheap but also of high quality.” He confirmed that the company has 600 trucks for cement distribution in the country, adding that apart from conducting business in Tanzania, he also intends to generate more jobs for Tanzanians. The investor said it was commercially illogical for him to import raw materials, which are readily available in the country, assuring the president that he remains committed to working with the government and has no plan of closing the cement plant. Recently, the Dangote Cement Chief Executive Officer, Mr Harpreet Duggal, dismissed as false and malicious reports that it had suspended operations due to exorbitant production costs. He instead attributed the temporary production halt to technical problems of the plant’s units, saying the company engineers were working hard to repair the fault parts to have the plant resuming production soon. Meanwhile, President Magufuli had earlier swore-in the newly appointed Njombe Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Christopher Ole-Sendeka, who is taking over from Dr Rehema Nchimbi whom the president has transferred to Singida.

An advocate disqualifies LHRC paper over language use

In an extra ordinary tension, the former Member of Parliament on CCM ticket has strongly challenged the language which has been used to express the research findings of a Legal and Human Right Centre (LHRC) saying that is not straight forward in a normal understanding of a paper presentation. Pindi Chana who is a lawyer and advocate by profession expressed her disappointment when contributing on a paper presented by LHRC at a breakfast debate organized by policy forum which was held recently at British Council in Dar es Salaam. According to Pindi, the paper by LHRC titled, “Perspective on human rights and governance in Tanzania” was full of a language which directly accuses Tanzania government over bad decisions it induces on issues related to human rights and governance. Pindi clarified that the language used to express the findings as highlighted in LHRC’s paper presentation directly attributes the government’s failure to deal with numerous issues arising in the country which are directly associated with human rights and good governance. However, although she praised the paper to be good but blasted on the language used while presenting the facts and noted that, this is a shame to the government as such facts are not in real situation bearing the fact that the government has been in the forefront caring for its people and the society at large and that is why peace and tranquility has prevailed in the country for longer. The argument that Pindi had raised queried if there was an official from the government side who was consulted for clarification among the respondents which specifically proved to be none. To her great dismay, she was surprised to have realized that after going through the paper which had been presented, there was no any data collected from the government side which could at least balance their findings to illustrate a fair play. In the LHRC’s paper the findings stated that, there is no Act of torture in Tanzania and that once one is tortured there are no legal mechanism on how to deal with the perpetrators accordingly. In addition to that, Tanzania government had been lacking data to base their argument that the situation of human rights has improved, according to the report although officials have been claiming that the situation of human rights in the country is improving this is baseless. Other findings in the LHRC report have it that the government delegates informed the member states on the positive development about the constitutional review process. However, LHRC noted with concern that the constitutional review process has not been as smooth as the government tried to depict and it had since stalled the process. Another confusing statement of a research findings whose language is wrongly implicated is where the LHRC’s findings says that, the government informed the member states on the Zanzibar election that was democratically conducted and all the political parties participated while the situation on the ground was not the case. The main opposition party in the Isles the Civic United Front (CUF) did not participate in the so-called democratic election. With this regard LHRC’s findings show that the government had misinformed the member states on the Zanzibar situation.  Another point she noted is where the LHRC report findings show that, the government submitted that there is wider provision of human rights education to the community and that it was lying. The truth about the matter is that, the whole work is being advocated by civil society groups which provides such education through different outreach programs and receives no momentary contribution from the government. “The language used by a presenter while analyising his report findings is not fair although he might be on the right track”, she said and added that such statements oppresses the government’s participation towards ensuring that peace and order is highly maintained in the country. On his part, LHRC’s Program Officer Paul Mikongoti responded to such a query and said that, even if the language is wrongly used, but the facts remain the same. He further said that, the government has not been cooperative with their centre in such a manner that they show reluctance whenever his centre is working on crucial issues for the general public and they don’t get clear answers whenever are investigating an issue.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

UN Chief appoints Nigerian national to stand for MICT courts in Arusha

UNITED Nations Secretary- General, Ban Ki-moon has appointed Mr Olufemi Elias of Nigeria as the Registrar of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICTs) which was recently inaugurated in Arusha. Mr Olufemi, who once worked as an anti-chemical weapon director, will effectively resume his position at ICT or “Mechanism”, effective from January 2017. The Nigerian takes over from Mr John Hocking of Australia, who has been serving as the Registrar of the MICT since January 2012. The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to Mr Hocking for his service, including his instrumental role in setting up the Mechanism, and overseeing the construction of its new premises in Arusha. Mr Elias has been serving as the Executive Secretary of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal since July 2016, a position which he also held from 2008 to 2013. He has also previously served as a Legal Adviser and Director at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from 2013 to 2016, and as a Senior Legal Officer at the OPCW from 2005 to 2008. Between 1998 and 2005, he worked in legal positions at the United Nations Compensation Commission. Judge Theodor Meron, President of the Mechanism, welcomed the appointment of Mr Elias, stating: “I look forward to working closely with Mr Elias to ensure that the Mechanism will continue to serve as a model of best practices and to be lean, efficient, and effective as it carries out the essential functions entrusted to it.” President Meron also praised Mr Hocking, who will continue to serve as the Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for his contributions to the Mechanism over the course of nearly five years. “Registrar Hocking has played an invaluable role in helping the Mechanism take shape, overseeing the smooth transition of key functions from the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and seeing the construction of the Mechanism’s new premises in Arusha through to completion, a legacy of which Mr Hocking can and should be proud,” he said. The official opening of the new premises of the Arusha branch of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) or ‘Mechanism’ took place at Laki Laki area late last week and was presided over by Vice- President Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan. More than 300 delegates attended the function, including Tanzanian government officials, representatives of the international community and the United Nations, judges and staff of the MICT, and the media. The unveiling of the plaque at the new premises marked the official opening of the new home of the Mechanism in Arusha at the Lakilaki area. During his remarks commencing the opening ceremony, Judge Theodor Meron, President of the MICT, acknowledged the indispensable role the government of Tanzania played in making the new MICT premises a reality. President Meron also underscored the role of the MICT in Africa, noting that: “With the Mechanism rooted firmly here, in mandate, culture, and context, it is not too much to say that this is an African court, and that in carrying out the vital mandate that it has been given, the Mechanism will serve, first and foremost, the people of this region and the world.” Mr Miguel de Serpa Soares, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, delivered a message on behalf of the United Nations Secretary- General, Ban Ki-Moon. Mr Moon was of view that all victims share the same desire “to see those responsible for the crimes against them brought to justice”, adding “the opening of the new MICT facility in Arusha, the African city of justice, is an important opportunity to promote and support accountability for international crimes more broadly”. The three buildings of the new premises – the courtroom, the archives and the office building – have been designed to serve the specialized functions of the Mechanism, which include the completion of remaining judicial work, archives management, witness protection, supervision of enforcement of sentences, and assistance to national justice.