Tanzania: Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance

Updated December 2009

Note: See also MALLYA, ET 2009 Promoting the Effectiveness of Democracy Protection Institutions in Southern Africa: Tanzania’s Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance [PDF document], EISA research Report No 40.

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) was established in 2001 by Articles 129-131 of the 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the CHRGG Act, Chapter 391 of 2001. The CHRGG plays the dual role of an ombudsman and a human rights commission. Although this legislation authorised it to operate in both the mainland and Zanzibar, Zanzibar authorities prevented it from doing so until a parliamentary amendment was enacted. In May 2006, Union government authorities and Zanzibar officials agreed that the quasi governmental CHRGG would be permitted to operate in Zanzibar.

The CHRGG has a very broad mandate of promoting awareness of human rights and investigating violations. The institution is modelled along the Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (Rief 2004) . Since its creation, the commission has been active in a number of protective functions. First, it receives and investigates complaints and/or allegations of human rights violations and contravention of principles of administrative justice. It also conducts public hearings on the same and proposes compensations where appropriate. Second, it initiates proceedings on its own. Third, it handles individual complaints concerning the violation of human rights generally, with vested rights to investigate, conduct hearings and settle disputes. It also has the right to decide not to proceed with a complaint. Fourth, it promotes and advises by educating the public on human rights and good governance issues, carrying out research on human rights and good governance, and monitoring compliance with human rights standards and good governance principles. Fifth, it advises the government and other public organs and private sector institutions on specific issues relating to human rights and administrative justice. Sixth, it offers mediation and conciliation through alternative conflict resolution (Transparency International 2003).

The commission is led by a judge and composed of nine other commissioners, not all of whom are lawyers. The commission has employed lawyers, economists, political scientists and sociologists. The commission employed more than 160 individuals and operated with a budget of approximately $2.4 million (3.1 billion shillings), an increase from its 2005 budget of approximately $2.1 million (2.7 billion shillings) both from national budgets and donors (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 2007) . However, it remained underfunded, understaffed and overburdened by a caseload of unresolved complaints.

The commissioners can arrest and prosecute, but they tend to prefer arbitration and conflict resolution out of court. The commission received additional complaints as a result of awareness campaigns conducted through the media. By mid 2006, the commission had received 14,487 complaints from organisations and individuals, and made recommendations to the government regarding 8,627. The commission categorised 1.8% of the complaints as human rights violations and most of the rest as related to maladministration by the government. It dealt with cases involving abuse of power, violence against women and promotion of women's involvement, among others.

In 2006 the commission published a report on prison conditions and outlined recommendations for improvement by the government. At year's end the commission was in the process of introducing a computerised case management system to improve the process (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 2007).

The public perception is that the commission operated independently without government interference. However, several members of the public argue that the commission has weaknesses, including the violation of the Paris principles on the independence of national human rights institutions. Firstly, the CHRGG is barred from investigating the President. Secondly, the President can direct the commission to discontinue an investigation, although he must provide a reason, "if he considers that there is a real and substantial risk that the investigation would prejudice matters of national defence or security". Thus far, the President has not interfered with the work of the commission. Thirdly, the commission has not yet developed its capacity to serve the whole country. There is a need to ensure closer coordination between the commission's operations and other related organs, such as the Good Governance Coordination Unit in the President's office, the Prevention of Corruption Bureau, the police, and civil society (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 2007).

The Commission was scored as "weak" by the 2006 Global Integrity Index on several accounts (Global Integrity 2006) . However, it noted that there had been too few cases since its establishment to tell whether government acts on the findings of the agency. Generally, the agency did not respond to citizen complaints within a reasonable time period but the response period depended on the importance of the case and the status of the complaint. The law does not spell out whether reports of the agency should be accessible but in practice they are reasonably accessible. The reports have to be tabled before the National Assembly before the public can access them.

In 2005, the Chairman of the Commission Justice Kisang noted that the lack of institutional cooperation and good faith by the government impeded investigations as public servants either delayed in answering the Commission's letters of inquiry or refused out right to do so (Legal and Human Rights Centre 2006).

Official web site

Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance [www] http://www.chragg.go.tz/ [opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).
Parliament [www] http://www.parliament.go.tz [opens new window] (accessed 17 Feb 2009).
National [www] http://www.tanzania.go.tz/ [opens new window] (accessed 17 Feb 2009).

References

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA 1977 (CAP 2), [www] http://www.policeforce.go.tz/pdf/REPUBLIC.pdf, [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

REIF, L 2004 The Ombudsman, Good Governance and the International Human Rights System Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL 2003 'National Integrity Systems Country Study Report-Tanzania'.

BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2006: Tanzania.

GLOBAL INTEGRITY 2006 "Tanzania Scorecard Report" IN Global Integrity Report 2006, [www] http://www.globalintegrity.org/reports/2006/Tanzania/index.cfm [opens new window] (accessed 9 Mar 2010).

LEGAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE 2006 "Tanzania Human Rights Report: Progress Through Human Rights".

 

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