Civil society organizations highlight shortcomings in six human rights

Civil society organizations have raised alarm over existing gaps in important six Human Rights that they presented to the United Nations, through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as part of the Universal Periodic Review whereby various governments evaluate their own implementation of human rights.

nyembea & jeniffer

Mr. Stanslaus Nyembea MVIWATA Policy analyst cum Legal Aid Officer addressing some of the weakness on implementing Human rights and actions which government supposed to take to recover the situation.

Among the involved non-government organizations are; National Network of Farmers’ groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA), Tanzania Women’s Lawyers Association (TAWLA), Mwanga Community Bank (MCBL), Community Banks Association of Tanzania (COBAT), Meru Community Bank-Arusha (MECOB) and Tanzania Home Association (TAHEA) under the We Effect of Kenya.
Speaking at the MVIWATA Annual General Meeting, the MVIWATA Legal and Policy Analyst, Stanslaus Nyembea said regarding land rights, the government in her first evaluation report to Human Rights Implementation had vowed to tame land conflicts related to land acquisition owned by various vulnerable and marginalized groups of people especially smallholder farmers.
However, to-date, he said the government has failed to curb the land conflicts continuing to prevail in various districts in the country including in Mvomero, Bagamoyo, Mbarali, Loliondo, Babati, Kilosa and Kiteto.
Despite the call from the civil societies demanding the government to fulfil her vow to curbing land conflicts in the country, they have unanimously expressed fear of persistence to smallholder farmers land grabbing through national agricultural policy and programme such as SAGCOT (Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor in Tanzania). The latter is claimed to aim at amending section of the current village land laws to facilitate land grabbing for large investors.
With regard to the right to adequate settlements the lawyer said, even as the Government specify two strategies to ensure every Tanzanian gets better housing and safety in conformity to the national vision 2015 of better life to every citizen yet there has been significant high house prices offered by the National House Agency (NHC) and which mostly are situated in the city.

“According to UNDP, National Housing Corporation has high price houses, two-bedroom house sold is at TShs 67.9 million whereas the income of an ordinary Tanzanian is $584 per year and Tanzania poverty rate is 65.6 percent,” he said.

They therefore urged the Government of Tanzania to address the challenges, including tackling the high cost of building materials and create a national policy on housing and planning and means to enable smallholder farmers to access loan so that they can also have better settlements.

With regard to the right to prepare an enabling environment for small-scale farmers and food security, the NGOs have noted that in the first evaluation report of the Human Right Implementation in the country, government had put in place comprehensive strategies for food security and safety.

Further to this, Tanzania is a member of the Maputo Declaration which needs member states to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets for agriculture, also is a member of the International Covenant on economic rights, social and cultural (ICESCR), which recognizes the right to each have a better quality of life including food, shelter and housing.

Therefore, they urged the government to implement its commitment to the Maputo Declaration and the international treaty on the rights of economic, social and cultural (ICESCR) to enable small farmers to produce enough food for their families and meet the needs of the market.

In addition to that, they urged the government to work on getting rid of the various obstacles affecting the agricultural sector from the production to marketing of the agricultural produce.

Rights of people with albinism was also highlighted at the meeting, it was mentioned that, since 2000-2013 there have been merciless attacks of people with albinism where at least 72 people were reported killed and 49 suffered permanent disability and up to now only five cases have been determined on merit while many suspects were freed without concrete reasons. “The government has to make sure that such victims are compensated and justice is granted,” he said.

Other rights specified by the NGOs were the rights of women. They called for recognition of the existing laws that provide equal opportunities for both women and men on ownership of properties including acquisition, usage or sell of properties such as land. They condemned on continued use of customary laws that discriminate women against inheritance, marriage and property ownership.
“We urge the Government to take deliberate steps to remove all kinds of gender discrimination in order to conform to the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and gender and have a strategy planning to curb all forms of violence against women.”

The right of existence of financial services for smallholder farmers to support good agricultural production was noted where various studies show that only 12 percent of the Tanzanian population have access to financial services while 40 percent access such services through informal arrangements like SACCOS.

While 17 percent of them have access to financial services through VIKOBA, 30 percent do not have any kind of access to financial services.

“Since the government has tried to improve financial services to small farmers on reasonable terms, including to allocate TShs. 500 million in fiscal year 2015 for a capital increase in the bank for agricultural development (TADP) and setup special window for agriculture at Investment Bank (TIB) to facilitate substantial agricultural.”

“Banks established by the government are all headquartered in cities like Dar es Salaam and so we urge the government through the central bank to control the interest rates charged by commercial banks and to ensure the agricultural development bank services reach smallholder farmers in their respective localities,” explained Mr. Nyembea.

Summing up the views of civil societies, Ms. Faith Mtuku from We effect-Kenya said that there is a need for the existing regimes/government subscribers of the Universal Periodic Review to fulfill their commitments related to human rights and to work quickly on the shortcomings highlighted with civil societies and other stakeholders who participated in the study evaluation.

mtiku & jenifer

Ms Faith Mtiku a representative from We effect, Kenya.

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Mr. Stanslaus Nyembea MVIWATA Policy analyst cum Legal Aid Officer addressing some of the weakness on implementing Human rights and actions which government supposed to take to recover the situation.

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