Second and third periodic reports dated 30 September 1996
The United Republic of Tanzania, a country of approximately thirty-three million inhabitants located in East Africa, was formed on 26 April 1964, by the adoption of an Act of Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.1 The population consists of more than 120 ethnic groups, virtually all of whom speak Bantu languages.2 The largest ethnic groups are the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi, each representing about one-fifth of the population. The population also includes Arab, Indian, and European communities, as well as people of Goan origin. Approximately one-third of the population adheres to Islam, while Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination with about six million adherents.3
Dr. Julius Nyrere, first president of Tanzania (1962-85), is credited with uniting the country's ethnic groups through adoption of Kiswahili as the national language. Nyrere held a grand vision of a united country developing through communal cooperation characterized by ujamaa ("familyhood" or "pulling together" in Kiswahili).4 The primary objective of his development plan was to institute a framework of African socialism under which egalitarianism was encouraged. Banks, factories and all private companies were nationalized; heavy investment was made in primary education; tribal conflicts were avoided; and a one-party state was formed.5
Nyerere's effort to achieve "African rebirth" has been the subject of some criticism. According to a 1998 report from Times Newspapers Limited, "[o]ver the past forty years . . . 'African socialism' . . . and other such ideologies have ensured that Africa remained mired in long-term poverty."6 The report contends that Nyerere's employment of the Western notion of socialism catapulted the nation's population into "agrarian collectives" and rendered Tanzania the "world's third poorest country."7 Government inefficiency and economic hardships during the 1970s-a reduction in the market value of Tanzania's primary exports (coffee and sisal) coupled with an increase in the price of petroleum8-handicapped Nyerere's design for socialism.
In 1985, Nyerere voluntarily terminated his presidency, an action that remains rare in the context of the African one-party state. He was succeeded by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who instituted a program for economic recovery through government spending cuts and the promotion of foreign investment. This program and a new capitalism have resulted in modest economic growth, with annual increases in agricultural production and real exports.9
Tanzania's ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduza (CCM), was formed in 1977 through the union of Zanzibar's Afro-Shirazi Party and the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), and has been "the primary source of policy in the social, political, and economic fields."10 In addition to providing the Tanzanian government with nearly all of its top political leaders, the CCM has played a pivotal role in the execution of the government's design for political and economic development.
In 1992, following an amendment to the Constitution, opposition parties were legalized, and in 1995,11 for the first time since independence, Tanzania held multiparty presidential and local government elections.12 Benjamin Mkapa, the CCM candidate, won the presidential election with sixty-two percent of the vote.13 Mkapa had been appointed to Parliament in 1977 and held a series of important government posts during the late 1970s and 1980s. Less than two years into his presidency, in late 1997, Mkapa conceded to the criticisms that the 1995 CCM election manifesto was inadequate and filled with magnificent promises to achieve economic and political development within a democratic framework, not all of which could be satisfied. Critics included the two main opposition political parties, NCCR Mageuzi and the Civic United Front (CUF), both of which had demanded that Mkapa resign as president given what they viewed to be defects and weakness in his election decree.14
Currently, Tanzania is experiencing an influx of thousands of Burundian Hutus who are fleeing Burundi because of the civil war between the Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-led army. Since 1993, approximately 250,000 people have been killed as a result of this conflict.15
In 1993 refugees from Burundi crossed the border into Tanzania, fleeing the violence that followed a coup attempt against the Burundian government.16 A resurgence of violence in Burundi in 1995 sent additional refugees into Tanzania.17 At last count there were at least 260,000 people in Tanzanian refugee camps, a majority of whom are seeking refuge from the Burundi conflict.18 Tanzania has traditionally had an open border policy towards refugees. However, in 1995, the seemingly endless inflow of refugees from Rwanda and Burundi caused Tanzania to rethink the policy, essentially closing its borders with Burundi.19
In 1997, Amnesty International criticized Tanzania for failing to take measures to stop community-based persecution of individuals, mostly older women, accused of witchcraft. AI and the UN also have reported torture and degrading treatment of prison detainees and suspected criminals. The Tanzanian Human Rights Education Society and the Defenders of Human Rights in Tanzania claim that the Government continues to impede the formation of local human rights groups, through either delay of action on their registration applications or by hampering their efforts to monitor violations of human rights.20 In October 1997, Yohana Wavenza, the Right Reverend Bishop of the Moravian Church of Tanzania, appealed to Tanzanian human rights activists to establish a human rights council and to educate "the general public on human rights."21 Bishop Wavenza contends that if Tanzania is ever to witness an end to political turmoil it must first address the violation of human rights as the root of the strife.
Alleged human rights abuses include political and extrajudicial executions (in 1993 members of the opposition party, Civic United Front (CUF) were killed on the island of Pemba22); politically motivated disappearances, torture or other inhumane and degrading treatment; arbitrary arrests or exile; and denial of a fair public trial. Police regularly mistreat and occasionally torture suspected criminals in their custody.23 In more extreme cases, family members of suspected criminals have been subjected to similarly egregious conduct on the part of the police. Despite the Government's official condemnation of these practices, officials who use excessive force with criminal suspects are seldom prosecuted.
Women in public life and in the economy
Women are not restricted from participating in government, politics or the legal profession, but their numbers remain low. Although government representatives informed the CEDAW Committee in 1990, during review of the second periodic report, that women had always been encouraged to be involved in politics, the statistics are dismal.24 Only eight of 232 elected members of the Union Parliament are women. Thirty-seven women from the CCM and opposition parties combined were appointed to Parliament to seats reserved for women; three of the cabinet's twenty-three ministers are women.25
Agriculture is the predominant economic activity and contributed 62% of the GDP in 1992. However, there is a tremendous disparity between women and men in size of land holdings.26 Women's rights to hold and use property are limited by custom and by religious law, and they have little control over the proceeds of their agricultural labor.27
Former President Nyerere identified adult education as a primary means to achieve self-reliance and social development.28 Because the country historically invested in education, sixty-one percent of Tanzania's adult population is literate.29 However, while primary education is mandatory, not enough school facilities currently are available to accommodate all of the children. Today,
the quality of education is poor and girls' participation, performance, and completion rates are significantly lower than for boys, particularly at the secondary level. Tanzania's education system is constrained by dilapidated facilities, lack of teaching materials and inadequately trained teachers. Spending on education between 1994-1996 averaged 6.1 percent of GDP, which is inadequate to address the main problems in the education sector.30
Religious groups primarily run private schools. Institutions of higher education enroll approximately 5300 students per year.
Family law and the legal system
Tanzania's family law system at independence, like that of most sub-Saharan African countries, was characterized by jurisdictional and substantive complexity. Depending on their ethnicity, race, nature of marriage, and religion, individuals were subject to statutory, customary, or religious law with respect to all aspects of family relations. Women were consistently disadvantaged under all the family law systems. African women were most severely disadvantaged, as customary law dealt with them essentially as legally equivalent to minors, and the fora that handled family law applied only custom in making decisions.
Immediately after independence, Tanzania began a dramatic effort to institute a democratic and unified system of family law.31 This effort involved a codification of customary law, integration of the courts into a single system, and unification of marriage laws.32
The Magistrate's Courts Act of 1963 eliminated racial criteria for jurisdiction and consolidated the dual court system by creating one tripartite system consisting of Primary Courts, District Courts/Resident Magistrates' Courts, and the High Court. The Court of Appeal of Tanzania was added in 1979 to replace the defunct East African Court of Appeal after the demise of the East African Community in 1977.33
Customary law was codified in the 1963 Declaration of Customary Law, a massive survey of the customs of all the ethnic groups. While such codification is problematic in that it "freezes" custom, making contemporary reevaluation difficult, and is not universally accepted as fully descriptive of individuals groups' customs, courts continue to cite it.
The most significant positive development of the post-independence era was adoption of the Law of Marriage Act, 1971 (LMA), which unified the law of marriage and divorce. LMA permits individuals to marry according to different customs or religions but requires that all marriages be registered, that wives in polygamous marriages be notified of the taking of additional wives, that custody be determined according to the best interests of the child, that all divorces be formally concluded and registered, and that property be distributed according to a uniform equitable standard.34 It also prohibits wife-beating, although violence against women remains widespread. Essentially LMA allows women to demand greater equality in the distribution of property and power within marriage. However, the culture is a long way from integration of these principles into the reality of family life.
The issue of inheritance remains problematic for women, as they are largely excluded from inheritance under custom. A new inheritance law has been under study for some time.
PREVIOUS REVIEW BY CEDAW:
The Committee reviewed Tanzania's initial report at its Ninth Session, 1990.
Concerns, Recommendations and Questions:
REVIEW BY OTHER UN TREATY BODIES:
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (initial report considered 9 and 16 August 1995)
1 "Tanzania Country Profile," MBendi Information Services, Internet, available from http: //www.mbendi.org., accessed on 15 March 1998. Information on Tanzania, Internet, available from: http://www.geocites.com, accessed on 28 February 1998. back
2 Information on Tanzania, Internet, available from: http://www.geocites.com, accessed on 28 February 1998.. "Tanzania Country Profile," MBendi Information Services, Internet, available from http: //www.mbendi.org., accessed on February 9, 1998. back
3 Country Profile: Tanzania, Internet, available from: http://www.abcnews.com, accessed on 27 February 1998. United Republic of Tanzania Background Report, Internet, available from: http://www.netspace.org., accessed on April 11, 1998. back
4 Ibid. back
5 Ibid. back
6 Sam Kiley, "Africa's Wise Men Wary as West Hails a Doubtful Dawn," Times Newspapers Limited, 26 March 1998, on-line. back
7 Ibid. back
8 U.S Department of State, Tanzania Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997, Internet, available from: http://www.un.org, accessed on 15 February 1998. Information on Tanzania, Internet, available from: http://www.geocites.com, accessed on 28 February 1998. Tanzania: Country Profile, Internet, available from: http://www.fstau-fao.org, accessed on 9 February 1998. back
9 United Republic of Tanzania Background Report. back
10 Ibid. back
11 U. S. Department of State, Department of State Human Rights Country Reports 1996: Tanzania, February 1997, on-line. back
12 United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Concluding Observations of the Committee on The Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: United Republic of Tanzania, 22/09/95.A/50/18, paras. 573-78, available from: http://www.un.ch, Internet, accessed 14 April 1998. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997: Tanzania, available from: http://www.amnesty.org, accessed on 28 February 1998. U.S Department of State, Tanzania Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997. Tanzania Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996, Department of State Human Rights Country Reports, U.S. Department of State, February 1997, accessed on 7 April 1998. back
13 Ibid. back
14 United Republic of Tanzania Background Report. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997: Tanzania. back
15 "Burundi Agrees to Meet Tanzania to Discuss Refugees," Agence France Presse, 14 February 1998, on-line. Moyiga Nduru, "Tanzania-Human Rights: Beefed-up Police Presence in Refugee Camps," Inter Press Service, 18 February 1998. back
16 Moyiga Nduru, "Burundi-Tanzania: Peace Effort Takes a Nose-dive," Inter Press Service, 26 August 1997, on-line. Moyiga Nduru, "Tanzania-Human Rights: Beefed-up Police Presence in Refugee Camps," Inter Press Service, 18 February 18, on-line. back
17 U. S. Department of State, Department of State Human Rights Country Reports 1996, February 1997, on-line. back
18 Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997: Tanzania: Refugees Should not be Returned to Near Certain Death, available from: http://www.amnesty.org, accessed on 28 February 1998. Tani Freedman, "UNHCR Chief Evokes Crisis in Respect of Humanitarian Principles," Agence France Press, 13 October 1997, on-line. Moyiga Nduru, "Burundi-Politics: New Mediator in the Offing?" Inter Press Service, 2 September 1997. John Nyaga, "UNHCR to Train Tanzanian Police to Patrol Refugee Camps," Agence France Presse, 17 February 1998. Moyiga Nduru, "Burundi-Tanzania: Peace Effort Takes a Nose-dive." Moyiga Nduru, "Tanzania-Human Rights: Beefed-up Police Presence in Refugee Camps," Inter Press Service, 18 February 1998. back
19 U. S. Department of State, Department of State Human Rights Country Reports 1996, February 1997, on-line. back
20 Ibid. back
21 "Tanzania: Human Rights Advocated in Tanzania," Africa News Service, Inc., 6 October 1997. back
22 U. S. Department of State, Department of State Human Rights Country Reports 1996, February 1997, on-line. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997: Tanzania. back
23 U.S Department of State, Tanzania Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997. U.S. Department of State, Department of State Human Rights Country Reports 1996. back
24 Ibid. back
25 Ibid. back
26 Fact Sheet: Women, Agriculture and Rural Development: United Republic of Tanzania," Posted on 3 June 1996, accessed in April 1998. back
27 Magdalena K. Rwebangira, "Gender and Law: The Case of Land in Tanzania," paper presented at the Gender and Law Conference: Eastern Africa Speak, Addis Ababa, October 1997. back
28 "Educating Women in Rural Tanzania," Internet, available from: http://www.cbie.ca/cida/cp7079.html, accessed on 25 April 1998. back
29 "Annual Report on Prospects for Economic and Social Growth: Tanzania," International Market Insight Reports, 24 February 1997, on-line. back
30 Ibid. back
31 International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW), Report, "Legal Status of Women: Tanzania 1995," available from IWRAW at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. back
32 Ibid. (citing Barthazar A. Rwezaura, The Integration of Marriage Laws in Africa with Special Reference to Tanzania, Paper Presented to the Regional Conference on Social Change and Legal Reform, Harare, Zimbabwe (January 1987). back
33 International Women's Rights Action Watch Report, "Legal Status of Women: Tanzania 1995," available from IWRAW at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Ibid. (citing a letter from Magdalena Rwebangira to the International Women's Rights Action Watch, dated 24 November 1994). back
34 International Women's Rights Action Watch Report, "Legal Status of Women: Tanzania 1995," available from IWRAW at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. back
35 Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Tanzania, CEDAW, 9th Sess., CEDAW/C/SR.157 (1990). back
36 United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Concluding Observation of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: United Republic of Tanzania, 9 August 1995, on-line. back
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