Tanzanian CSO validation meeting, UPR Info Africa sharing good practices

Tanzania will be reviewed during the 25th Working Group session to be held in Geneva in April, 2016. In preparation for this, Tanzanian CSOs developed the Stakeholder reports that were submitted to the OHCHR on 21st September, 2015. It was in this regard that UPR Info was invited by the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which is coordinating over 80 Tanzanian CSOs in the UPR process, to participate in the validation meeting that was held at the Double View Hotel, Dar es Salaam on Thursday, September, 2015. Participants to the validation meeting included 35 civil society organisations based in Dar es Salaam and 10 from outside the city.

In his opening remarks, the Coordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), Mr. Onesmo Olengurumwa, thanked the participants for their hard work and for finding time to attend the meeting. He informed the meeting that during the 1st Cycle, Tanzania received 107 recommendations. Of these, only 10 percent were implemented; 62 percent were half implemented; while 29 percent were not implemented at all. This state of affairs presents a major challenge for CSOs to double their advocacy efforts.

The meeting was attended by OHCHR Senior Human Rights Advisor, Tanzania, Ms. Chitralekha Marie Massey who in her remarks underscored the importance of CSOs to work together in the development of the Stakeholders’ reports; and also with the Government of Tanzania in the development of the Government report. She added that the UN is supporting the Government of Tanzania to develop benchmarks and indicators that will be integrated in the Human Rights Action Plan and will be used to monitor the implementation of the recommendations. She added that it is important to learn from the 1st cycle to ensure that the recommendations for the 2nd cycle are better articulated and more specific.

The validation meeting was officially opened by UPR Info Africa Regional Representative, Mr. Gilbert Onyango who in his speech informed the meeting that the UPR has succeeded in catalysing change and improving the human rights situation in Africa and indeed in the world. He congratulated Tanzanian CSO under the coordination of the THRDC for the hard work they have done to establish such a broad based UPR Stakeholders coalition that developed various thematic group reports. He reminded the participants that the UPR should move to being a process and not an event that occurs every 4 years. This therefore requires the commitment of all CSOs to the process.

Several thematic groups presented their draft reports for consideration and adoption. These were to be reduced into 10 page reports of the various thematic groups before the submission. However, it must be noted that a large percentage of the participants in the process and meeting were new to human rights treaty reporting and the UPR. It is for this reason that UPR Info was asked to train them on the history of UPR; the importance of the UPR in promoting human rights; how the UPR works; how to develop a Stakeholders’ report; and how to lobby both in Geneva and in Dar es Salaam. UPR Info informed the meeting that it will work closely with the coalition to organise the first in country pre-session in Africa that will be held in Dar es Salaam in February, 2016; and thereafter support 3 members of the coalition to travel for the pre-session in Geneva.