Tanzania eviction: EAC civil society urges action

The East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) has condemned the manner in which Rwandans are being evicted from Tanzania. In a August 19 petition, EACSOF said the manner in which the expulsion was executed was in complete disregard of East Africans’ freedom of movement across the bloc.

The East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) has condemned the manner in which Rwandans are being evicted from Tanzania.

In a August 19 petition, EACSOF said the manner in which the expulsion was executed was in complete disregard of East Africans’ freedom of movement across the bloc.

The petition, addressed to EAC Heads of State, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), president of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the Council of Ministers and the EAC Secretary General, was signed by EACSOF chief executive Martin Mwondha.

This comes days after the Rwanda civil society platform also condemned the evictions.

“According to eye witnesses who reported to EACSOF, by August 13, more than 7,000 people of Rwandan ancestry had been forced out of Tanzania.  Elderly women are being rounded up at gun point with nothing on them, and forced out to the Rwanda-Tanzania border,” reads part of the petition.

“The children they had with Tanzanian men are remaining because the children are Tanzanian and not their mothers. The same thing is happening to men married to Tanzanian women.”

The regional civil society forum said those being forced out include unemployed youth born in Tanzania, but have Rwandan origins, women and men who left Rwanda as babies in 1959, babies and teenagers born in Tanzania, and “elderly women or men who crossed into Karagwe long before Tanzania was born.”

The forum accuses the Tanzanian authorities of violating the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. The charter prohibits mass expulsion of non-nationals.

“Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status,” reads the petition.

Discrimination

The petitioners also cite Article 7 of the EAC Common Market Protocol, which they say guarantees the free movement of regional citizens and requires partner states to ensure non-discrimination of citizens based on their nationalities.

Quoting an unidentified media report, EACSOF said people claiming to represent Tanzanian government are holding meetings with local leaders from which a simple message, “All Rwandan Out”, is given.

“First, the targeted people are forced to give up their official Tanzanian documents, and since they no longer have documents, everything is taken,” EACSOF said.

“It is incomprehensible that such actions, which are in gross contravention of the Tanzanian Constitution, Tanzania Citizenship Act (1995), The EAC Treaty and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights can take place at this stage of East African integration.” 

EACSOF appealed to President Jakaya Kikwete to come to the urgent rescue of the people whose identity has been stripped.

“Justice will only be seen to have been done with immediate stoppage of evictions, unconditional redress for victimised people to help them recover their right of residence, family life and property and nothing less.”

EACSOF’s petition comes as EALA resumes business this week with its plenary session in Arusha, Tanzania.

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