Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1986

Tanzania was formed in 1964 when mainland Tanganyika united
with the newly independent island of Zanzibar. Julius K.
Nyerere served as President and chairman of the country's
single political party almost continuously from the
independence of Tanganyika in 1961 until 1985. In 1985
Nyerere voluntarily retired and sanctioned the election of Ali
Hassan Mwinyi, the former President of Zanzibar and First Vice
President of Tanzania. Nyerere, however, retains the
chairmanship of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the sole legal
political party. The party attempts to control activity at
all levels of society through its system of 10-family cells.
Zanzibar is ruled by the same party as the mainland but
exercises a considerable degree of autonomy.
Tanzania is one of the world's poorest countries. Its
population of 22 million, growing at 3.3 percent per year, has
an annual per capita gross domestic product of approximately
$240. In 1983 the Government accelerated the process of
economic reform which stimulated a 2.5 percent growth rate in
1984 and 1985. In 1986 the Government strengthened the reform
program, concluded a new agreement with the International
Monetary Fund, increased prices paid to farmers for their
crops, rescheduled Tanzania's foreign debt payments, and
secured increased donor support, particularly from the World
The 1984 Zanzibar Constitution includes a bill of rights which
guarantees freedom of movement, speech, religion, and
association. The addition of a similar bill of rights in 1985
to the national Tanzanian Constitution and amendments to the
Criminal Procedure Code and Preventive Detention Act increased
public awareness of legal rights in 1986, especially in regard
to proper procedures for arrest and trial. However,
Parliament then suspended the bill of rights for 3 years. All
laws which would now be unconstitutional under the bill of
rights must be revised by March 1988. The revisions will be
made by Parliament on the basis of recommendations of the Law
Reform Commission.
Despite the progress toward implementing a bill of rights, the
Government still severely restricts freedom of speech, of the
press, and of association, including the right to strike. In
July 1986, a police field force unit opened fire on a group of
500 workers protesting wage deductions at a sugar factory in
Kilombero. Three people were killed and 20 injured by police
gunfire. The incident was the first of its kind in Tanzania
since independence and is being investigated by a government
commission. The 14 remaining suspects of the original 30
persons placed in preventive detention in 1983 during the
government inquiry into an alleged plot to overthrow the
Government were released in April 1986. Two persons who were
detained at the end of October remained in custody without
being informed of the charges against them at the end of 1986.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
There were no reports of politically motivated killings.
b. Disappearance
There were no reported cases of disappearance.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
The Tanzanian Government opposes torture as a matter of
policy, but it is occasionally used on an unauthorized basis
by police and prison authorities, mainly in the form of
beatings. This occurs typically either at the time of
apprehension, when a suspect is first taken to a police
station, or during the subsequent criminal investigation.
Police have shot and killed fleeing suspects. The use of such
force has been severely criticized by the government press.
Police officials have been sentenced to lengthy terms of
imprisonment for abuses of suspects and prisoners.
Tanzania's prisons are generally unsanitary and overcrowded.
Prison conditions are poor, largely as a result of Tanzania's
economic difficulties and not because of a deliberate
government effort to subject prisoners to inhumane
conditions. In 1986 the Government promoted prison training
programs and announced that it was considering initiating a
system of parole.
Mob justice also sometimes occurs in both cities and rural
areas, and in 1986 vigilantes killed several suspected bandits
and disfigured others. Traditional defense groups in central
Tanzania, the Sungu Sungu and Wasalama, which in the past were
encouraged by both government and party officials to help
eliminate cattle rustling, often use such extreme tactics
against rustlers and elderly people suspected of practicing
witchcraft .
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Preventive Detention Act allows, upon a written order from
the President, the arrest and indefinite detention without
bail of any person considered dangerous to the public order or
national security. In 1985 the Act was amended to require
that detainees be released within 15 days of their detention
or informed of the reason for their detention. In April 1986,
the Government released the 14 remaining suspects of the
original 30 persons, including a senior Tanzanian diplomat,
placed in preventive detention in 1983 during the inquiry into
an alleged plot to overthrow the Government. At the end of
1986, two persons who had been detained in October remained
without charges and without seeing their families. These were
the first reported long-term detentions under President
Mwinyi . Although the Act was extended to Zanzibar in 1985, no
one was known to have been detained there under its provisions
in 1986. The Court of Appeals, the highest court in Tanzania,
ruled in 1986 that time spent in prison under the Preventive
Detention Act cannot be considered to be time served if the
accused is subsequently convicted and sentenced.
The 1985 amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, requiring
that a person arrested for a crime, other than a national
security charge under the Preventive Detention Act, be charged
before a magistrate within 24 hours, has raised public
consciousness concerning legal rights at time of arrest and
made the police more cautious about making arrests without
good cause. However, the new criminal procedure amendments
also restricted the right to bail, reducing the number of
bailable offenses, limiting judges' discretion in granting
bail, and imposing strict conditions on freedom of movement
and association when bail is granted. In 1986 judges usually
followed the recommendations of prosecutors in granting or
denying bail. The legal community in Zanzibar believes that
the new amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code do not apply
to Zanzibar, and that the isles retain the less restrictive
old system of the right to bail in all cases except murder and
treason. Under the new amendments, an accused has the right
to challenge the order for arrest, and his case must be
referred to a board of review within 3 months, or he must be
The Economic and Organized Crime Act of 1984, which replaced
the Economic Sabotage Act of 1983, placed persons newly
accused of economic crimes within the procedural safeguards of
normal judicial process, giving defendants the right to
attorneys and, under certain conditions, bail. Because these
cases are heard in special sessions within the court system,
it is difficult to determine the number of arrests for
economic crimes in 1986. They appear to be scattered
incidents rather than a throwback to the large numbers
arrested in 1983 and 1984. Some cases are still pending in
the special tribunal established by the Economic Sabotage Act
of 1983. These tribunals bypass normal legal procedures by
suspending rules of evidence, the right of representation, and
the right to appeal.
With regard to forced labor, the International Labor
Organization (ILO) continues to express concern over laws
requiring unemployed persons to work in communal agriculture
and development projects.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Tanzania's legal system is based on the British model with
modifications to accommodate customary and Islamic law in
civil cases. Criminal trials are open to the public, and the
more controversial trials are open to the press. Criminal
defendants have the right of appeal. Military courts do not
try civilians, and there are no security courts. Defendants
in civil and military courts may appeal decisions to the High
Court. Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice except for
those of the High Court and the Court of Appeals, who are
appointed by the President. While an independent judiciary is
constitutionally mandated, some members of the legal
community, including judicial officers, have complained that
the legal system is being corrupted through bribery. No
evidence has been presented of corruption in the Court of
Appeals, however, but police and court officials are often
bribed to delay the process of investigation and trials.
Although the 1985 amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code
were supposed to lessen court congestion, in 1986 it was
taking from 3 to 4 years for an average case to come to
trial. The Government provides legal counsel to those charged
with treason and murder. In Dar Es Salaam, the Tanzania Bar
Association and the Legal Aid Society offer legal service to
indigents, but their resources are severely strained, and most
indigents do not in fact receive legal representation.
Under the 1984 Zanzibar Constitution, the people's courts,
which did not provide defendants the right of legal
representation, were abolished. The island's court system now
parallels the legal system of the United Republic of Tanzania
but retains Islamic courts to handle Moslem family cases such
as divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Cases concerning
Zanzibar constitutional issues are heard only in Zanzibar's
courts. Beginning in 1985, all other cases may be appealed to
the Court of Appeals of the United Republic of Tanzania. One
or two such appeals were heard in 1986.
In 1986 the nine defendants sentenced to life imprisonment in
a 1985 treason trial were waiting for their appeal to be
heard. At the end of 1986, five persons arrested for
assisting in the escape of two of the original defendants were
awaiting trial .
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
Although party membership is voluntary, the Government uses
the party structure to intervene in the private lives of its
citizens. The Chama Cha Mapinduzi has party cadres covering
the smallest units of society. Individual cells vary in size
from single family homes to large apartment buildings, and may
contain from 10 to several hundred individuals. Unpaid
"10-cell" leaders are the party officials responsible for
resolving problems at the grassroots level and reporting any
suspicious behavior or event within their neighborhoods to
authorities .
In 1986 police were criticized for forced entry into private
homes while engaged in searches for tax evaders and
contraband. Various ordinances allow the removal of
"undesirable " or destitute persons from one area to their
prior place of residence or origin if no work is found for
them. Groups of unemployed persons were rounded up on the
streets of Dar es Salaam under these ordinances. The city of
Dar es Salaam started a Human Resources Department to assist
the urban unemployed in finding productive work rather than
return them to the rural areas at government expense.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed under the
Constitution but is limited in practice. Tanzanian citizens
show few inhibitions about criticizing the system in private
conversations but are cautious in public statements. The
mainland Government owns the only English-language daily
newspaper, the National Press Agency, and the mainland radio
facility. The Zanzibar Government operates a radio and
television station. The Swahili-language paper, which has a
daily circulation of 100,000, is owned by the party. The
Newspaper Act, which allows government search and seizure of
any publication and withdrawal of the license to publish at
any time, makes the launching of a private newspaper or
magazine extremely difficult. There is a monthly Catholic
newspaper with a circulation of 120,000 which covers largely
religious news. The official media, as organs of the State,
usually present a unified point of view on important policy
matters and do not criticize the premises of government
domestic or foreign policies. The Government encourages the
media to publish articles and letters to the editor
criticizing corruption, mismanagement, and "economic sabotage"
in the government ministries and state-owned corporations.
However, a weekly newspaper column, "Society and the Law," was
removed when it became too critical of the Government.
Visiting foreign reporters are required to register with the
Government and obtain a government permit. They are then
allowed considerable freedom, including access to government
and party leaders. Photographers, however, can fall victim to
the widespread fear of South African espionage. In August
1986, two photographers were arrested in separate, unrelated
incidents. Each photographer had all the required permits,
and each was released after several hours. Also in 1986, a
freelance journalist was banned from reporting on Zanzibar
because he was said to be reporting negative news "which
destroyed the image of the isles."
Academic freedom is officially guaranteed, but in practice
most academicians, relying on the government-run educational
system for their livelihood, limit their exploration of
sensitive subjects. Under the Films and Stage Plays Act,
films may be censored, and plays must be approved. The
importation of foreign publications is not prohibited, but it
is limited by the acute shortage of foreign exchange.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Given the nature of Tanzania's one-party system, the freedoms
of public assembly and association are limited. Permits must
be obtained through the party for any public meeting,
political or otherwise. Student organizations are party
controlled, and students are inhibited from public criticism
by concern that their future employment prospects may be
jeopardized. A number of professional business, legal, and
medical associations exist, but they are careful to
concentrate on nonpolitical topics. Under the Societies
Ordinance, all associations must be registered with and
approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and their elections
are subject to government supervision, including the screening
of candidates. No organizations which would compete with
party organizations are approved, including labor unions.
There is only one labor union, Juwata, an organ of the party.
Membership in Juwata is required of all workers. No other
unions may operate. All business and government offices with
more than a few employees are required to have a Juwata
chapter. Juwata represents about 60 percent of the workers in
the industrial and government sectors. Juwata, however, has
little influence on labor policy. Wages are set by the
Government, and Juwata does not bargain collectively on behalf
of the workers. At the local level, it promotes employee
welfare by filing grievances against employers, usually
involving pay disputes. Grievances which cannot be settled in
the workplace are taken to the permanent Labor Tribunal, whose
decisions are final.
Strikes are not prohibited by law, but they have not taken
place in the past because disputes must be taken to the Labor
Tribunal which makes binding decisions. In July 1986, a labor
disturbance occurred when approximately 500 workers gathered
at a sugar factory entrance in Kilombero to protest wage
deductions. A police field force unit opened fire, killing 3
and wounding 20. The management and local officials blamed
the workers for their failure to use proper channels to voice
their grievances. The Legal Aid Committee issued a strong
statement deploring violence against unarmed citizens. The
Government-established commission of enquiry, with
representatives from the party. Government, police, and
Juwata, discovered shortcomings in factory management,
organization of the workers, and party and government
leadership. On December 1, President Mwinyi announced that he
had taken action on recommendations made by the Commission.
However, the recommendations and the report have not been made
public. Juwata maintains relations with the ILO, and the
Government has ratified most ILO conventions. The ILO
believes that the appointment of the leader of Juwata by the
President of Tanzania violates its Conventions no. 87 and 98
on freedom of association.
c. Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution and
respected in practice. Missionaries are allowed to enter the
country freely to proselytize, and Tanzanians are allowed to
go abroad for pilgrimages and other religious purposes,
limited, of course, by the scarcity of foreign exchange. The
population of the mainland is roughly 30 percent Christian, 35
percent Muslim, and 35 percent adherents of traditional
religions. There appear to be no social or political
advantages or disadvantages attached to membership in any
given faith on the mainland. While there has been some
controversy in overwhelmingly Muslim Zanzibar regarding state
support of certain mosques, Zanzibaris are generally free to
practice without interference any faith they choose.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign,
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Apart from the Zanzibari requirement for documentation for
travel between Zanzibar and the mainland, travel generally is
not restricted within Tanzania. Citizens must follow national
employment directives stipulating the nature of employment and
location of residence. For years city dwellers unable to show
proof of employment during police checks have been forced to
return to rural areas in an effort to control increasing
pressure on urban resources and reverse declining levels of
agricultural production. The Human Resources Deployment Act
of 1983 requires local governments to ensure that every
resident within their areas of jurisdiction engages in
productive or other lawful employment. Those not so employed
are subject to transfer to another area where employment is
available. Although the Act was not enforced in 1986, the
Government strongly encouraged 1,000 unemployed residents in
the over-populated Kilimanjaro area to resettle on arable land
in Morogoro under a 5-year human resources development
program. The Government also expressed concern over the
increasing numbers of young people migrating to urban areas to
seek work rather than remaining in the countryside to engage
in agriculture and raise livestock. In 1986 a number of
persons were rounded up at random in Dar es Salaam and
imprisoned for 3 to 4 months to discourage young migrants.
Passports are required for foreign travel and can be difficult
to obtain. Tax clearances and approval from the Central Bank
are required in order to buy airline tickets. The Economic
and Organized Crime Control Act of 1984 prohibits taking
foreign currency out of the country (although allowed on
Zanzibar for business purposes), and those accused under the
Act must surrender their passports. In practice, those
planning to travel or emigrate are subject to intense scrutiny
by police and tax authorities. Tanzanians who leave the
country without authorization are subject to prosecution on
return. In 1986 Tanzanian immigration authorities increased
border post surveillance and began requiring all people
crossing borders out of the country to present travel
documents detailing the purpose of their journey. This
requirement was aimed at the large number of unemployed youths
who leave the country. In the spring of 1986, over 40 such
youths were repatriated from Mozambique. Their travel
documents were confiscated on return, and they were held in
prison until their families paid the cost of their return
tickets. The Extra-Territor ial Jurisdiction Act empowers the
courts to try Tanzanians who commit offenses outside the
country. Although it is legally possible for citizenship to
be revoked, there have been no reports during the last several
years that this has been done.
Tanzania generally has a liberal policy toward refugees and
displaced persons. As of January 1986, there were about
207,000 refugees and displaced persons in Tanzania of whom 82
percent were from Burundi, with most of the rest from Rwanda
and Zaire. Tanzania accepts refugees from contiguous
countries and requires those from other countries to find
resettlement elsewhere. In general, the same services and
rights available to citizens are offered to refugees and
displaced persons insofar as local resources permit. Upon
becoming self-supporting, such persons are offered Tanzanian
citizenship. South Africans who enter Tanzania as members of
liberation groups are allowed to remain in the country in a
special category. However, those who leave the liberation
groups are refused work and residence permits. The United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is actively
engaged in resettling over 70 former members of such groups.
In 1986 Tanzania began settling a small group of
asylum-seekers who fled Uganda in the wake of two changes of
government there in 1985. Seven Kenyan dissidents, even
though they arrived from a contiguous country, were turned
over to the UNHCR for resettlement in Scandinavia because of
the Government's desire to continue good relations with
Kenya. The UNHCR is presently attempting to resettle 10 more
such arrivals from Kenya.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Political activity is forbidden except within the party.
Although ex-President Julius Nyerere continues to direct the
party structure and bureaucracy, he has indicated plans to
step down in the near future and appears to be slowly
relinquishing power to President Mwinyi , who also serves as
party vice chairman. There are no overt opposition groups.
However, informal advocacy of a multiparty system is allowed,
and leaflets on the subject have been distributed by
multiparty advocates.
All candidates for Parliament must be party members. In 1985,
under the amended Constitution, voters were allowed to choose
between two party-selected candidates for 75 percent, or 169,
of the 244 seats in Parliament. The remaining 25 percent is
composed of members appointed by the Government and the
various "mass organizations" associated with the party. The
one-party system does not permit political participation
through the open nomination of multiple candidates. Voters
register dissatisfaction by voting incumbent members of
Parliament out of office. In 1985 some 23 petitions were
filed alleging election fixing and intimidation of village
leaders and challenging the results of the elections both on
Zanzibar and the mainland. In 1986 most of the petitions were
dismissed by the courts, although a few were still pending.
While membership in the party is voluntary, overzealous party
functionaries have been known to require proof of membership
for receipt of basic government services or employment. This
practice has been publicly deplored by Nyerere.
Zanzibar has its own House of Representatives, and the
majority of the members were directly elected from a
party-selected slate for the first time in 1985. Under the
new Constitution, the House of Representatives consists of 50
elected members, 10 members nominated by the President of
Zanzibar, 5 regional commissioners, 5 seats reserved for
women, and 5 representatives from the party's mass
organizations .
Women are encouraged to take an active role in politics. The
Government has appointed women to 20 percent of the membership
of village councils. There are two women Cabinet Ministers
and there is one woman on the 18-member central committee of
the party. The 1985 national Constitution reserves 15 seats
in Parliament for women.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
Tanzania is a party to the United Nations' covenants on human
rights and in 1984 ratified the Organization of African Unity
Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Largely due to the
efforts of ex-President Nyerere, Tanzania has developed a
tradition of opposing abuses of human rights, and there were
no outside investigations of human rights violations in
Tanzania in 1986. There are no active local human rights
groups in Tanzania. There was no published government
reaction to Amnesty International's concern about the
continuing detention of the suspected coup plotters. These
detainees were released in April 1986.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
In practice, the participation of women in education beyond
the primary school level is seriously limited by tradition and
social attitudes. For most of Tanzania's ethnic groups,
women's traditional role has been that of mother and field
laborer, and women are still underrepresented in government,
the professions, and in skilled occupations. Social
limitations on the roles women play are generally more
pervasive on Zanzibar than on the mainland. Women in many
parts of the country continue to suffer from discriminatory
restrictions on inheritance and ownership of property because
of concessions to custom and Islamic law. Although the
practice is declining, female circumcision is still
occasionally performed within approximately 20 of the
country's 120 mainland ethnic groups. Despite obstacles, the
Government has made progress in its efforts to ensure equality
for women, especially in urban areas where traditional values
have a weaker hold on the population. The Court of Appeals
has held that womens ' domestic services are a marital asset to
be considered in divorce settlements. The Union of Tanzanian
Women, a wing of the party, is dedicated to the eradication of
inequality for women in all spheres of society. The ILO has
assisted groups of women in starting small-scale business
ventures and achieving economic independence.
In 1986 attention was drawn to the plight of the indigenous
Hadzabe people who live in the north of the country around
Lake Eyasi. These hunters and gatherers were among the
earliest settlers in Tanzania. Lack of food, water, and
shelter has reduced their population from 2,000 to 250 in the
last few years. Although the Government is researching the
problem, it has no immediate plans to reverse the impending
extinction of the Hadzabe, known as "the forgotten people of
Lake Eyasi . "
The Asian community, estimated at about 40,000, is both
culturally and economically exclusive, a business-oriented
minority in a society committed to socialist policies.
Official government policy is one of equal rights for all
citizens, and Asian entrepreneurs are being encouraged to
invest in areas previously reserved for the public sector,
including large-scale agriculture.
Workers in Tanzania work a 40-hour, 6-day workweek. Section
77 of the employment ordinance prohibits children under the
age of 15 from working. This provision applies only to the
formal wage sector in both urban and rural areas and not to
children working on family farms or herding domestic
livestock. A young person between the ages of 15 and 18 may
be employed provided the work is "safe and not injurious to
health." There is no legal discrimination in wages on the
basis of sex, but in practice discrimination occurs. In
general, women cannot be employed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.,
and young people are not allowed to work between 6 p.m. and 6
a.m. Several laws regulate safety in the workplace, including
the Factories Ordinance, the Accidental and Occupational
Diseases Notification Ordinance, and the Workman's
Compensation Ordinance. In 1986 the ILO and the Ministry of
Labor completed a project establishing an occupational health
and safety factory inspection system. Employers in Tanzania
are required to have insurance, but enforcement is limited by
Government resources for checking on it.