Amnesty outraged at Tanzania rights court decision

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The human rights organisation Amnesty International has said a decision by Tanzania to withdraw part of the treaty that established the remit of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights which allows its citizens and NGOs to sue the government at the court.

Amnesty said the withdrawal denies individuals and organisations access to justice.

This “is clearly a cynical attempt to evade accountability”, Japhet Biegon, Amnesty International’s Africa Advocacy Coordinator said.

Tanzania, which hosts the court in the northern city of Arusha, will become the second country after Rwanda to withdraw from this clause.

The move is likely to raise concerns over the country whose human rights record has been under scrutiny in the last few years.

In a letter to the African Union, whose member states established the court, Tanzania explained that it was taking the action because the court had failed to uphold reservations that the country made about allowing individuals and NGOs to sue it.

Almost 40 percent of the cases to have been filed at the court are against Tanzania, despite 51 other African countries being signatory.

In 2010, Tanzania said that individuals and NGOs should only refer to it once all domestic legal remedies have been exhausted.

Amnesty International believes Tanzania’s move is the latest sign of growing hostility towards human rights and rights defenders. The organisation has challenged the country to reconsider its decision.

Dominica Nwabufo