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Tanzania--Human Rights

According to the Permanent Constitution of 1977, Tanzania recognizes that all human beings have equal rights to dignity and respect. Nevertheless, it maintained that these rights were only guaranteed under a self-reliant socialist nation, and more particularly under the one-party rule of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). This party's membership was broadly based; any citizen eighteen years or older could join if he or she accepted the beliefs, aims, and objectives of the CCM.

Among the rights and principles recognized in Tanzania's constitution were the following: the principles of the equality and dignity of all human beings; their right to life, liberty, and property; freedoms of conscience, expression, and association; the right to participate in government; the duty to uphold the laws of the state; the obligation to respect the rights and dignities of others and to prevent the exploitation of one human being by another; and the duty to conduct affairs of the state so that the nation's resources would be preserved, developed, and enjoyed for the benefit of all its citizens. The government was to be democratically elected, responsible to a representative parliament, its laws to be interpreted by free, and have impartial courts of law. Voting rights were granted to all citizens at least 21 years old.

Comparison with other democratic constitutions makes it clear that Tanzania's constitution omitted mention of certain individual rights recognized elsewhere. These include the following: the right to a fair trial by an impartial judiciary, and the freedom from discrimination on grounds of race, tribe, color, sex, creed, or religion. Freedom of religion and equality of opportunity for all men and women, irrespective of race, religion, or status were recognized in the constitution under the Tanganyuika African National Union (TANU), but dropped from the constitution under the CCM in 1977.

Since the reforms that accompanied its transition to a multi-party state, Tanzania has enjoyed a relatively good international reputation regarding human rights, particularly when compared with neighboring countries including Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Tanzania's judicial system is comparatively independent from government involvement. Nonetheless, the nation has enacted several laws that permit the infringement of human rights, including the Preventive Detention Act, which allows the government to detain indefinitely and without bail persons considered threatening to national security. Political criminals may also be exiled internally under the provisions of a "Deportation Act." The press enjoys relative freedom of expression, but the president reserves the right to restrict publications contrary to the interest of the people. To reduce flight from villages to cities, the government maintained at one time internal travel controls; in the process of enforcing these, violations of human rights were frequently reported. These controls have since been lifted. The government also restricts the rightsof assembly and association by requiring that opposition parties be registered and that groups seek permission to stage public rallies.

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