By JOHN NDITI in Morogoro and ROSE ATHUMANI in Dar es Salaam, 12th December 2011
THE government has said it won’t reform its laws in line with the wishes of the 18th United Nations Human Rights Council meeting that called for banning of polygamy and payment of dowry.
Tanzania has also flatly rejected the idea of legalizing same sex marriages and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which were also some of 153 recommendations made by the council in its recent meeting.
FGM was banned in 1998, while same-sex sexual relationship is a criminal offence under the Penal Code.
Addressing journalists on Monday, the Deputy Attorney General, Mr George Masaju, said in Morogoro that the recommendations that have been rejected were repugnant.
The recommendations meant to promote human rights were made in October by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, after going through various human rights reports from different countries.
Mr Masaju was officiating at a three-day government officials’ meeting which was called to discuss the UN recommendations.
According to the Deputy AG, countries presented their human rights reports to the UN Council meeting in July, where the 153 recommendations were agreed upon including those that Tanzania has rejected.
Mr Masaju said the government had accepted 96 of the recommendations and rejected four, leaving the remaining to be discussed by government officials and other stakeholders.
After the consultative discussions, the government and other stakeholders would prepare a report to be presented again at the UN human rights council meeting in March 2012.
“The 53 recommendations have to be discussed by various stakeholders including government officials from different ministries and their views will be presented to the UN council meeting,” he noted.
He said polygamy and dowry are long held traditions that cannot be banned through a legislation.
Mr Musa Gassama, Special Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, East Africa Regional Office, commended the decision to involve different groups in discussing human rights issues.
“Tanzania is doing a commendable job in protecting human rights by involving different stakeholders, especially institutions and non government organizations,” he noted.
Some western countries have vowed to use aid as a tool to coerce African countries into legalizing same sex marriages.
When contacted for a comment, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ms Celina Kombani said: “There are many recommendations that the government rejected and many others that it accepted, my ministry is still conducting an evaluation.
“This is of interest to the public and I would like to have more time so we can give the public a detailed report,” the minister said.
The Attorney General, Frederick Werema, declined to comment and referred the ‘Daily News’ to the Minister of State, President’s Office – Good Governance, Mr Mathias Chikawe, who led Tanzania’s delegation to the 18th UN human rights council meeting.
Mr Chikawe was not however, available for comment.
At each of its meetings, the UN Council considers country reports from the process of review every UN member state has agreed to participate. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) involves an assessment of the human rights records of all 193 UN member states once every four years.
The Human Rights Council has 47 member states and is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights globally. It meets three times a year but may convene for special sessions to address specific human rights issues or situations of concern. In 2010 the Council met In two special sessions.