An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Executive Summary

The United Republic of Tanzania is a multiparty republic consisting of the mainland region and the semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago, whose main islands are Unguja (Zanzibar Island) and Pemba. The union is headed by a president, who is also the head of government. Its unicameral legislative body is the National Assembly (parliament). Zanzibar, although part of the union, has its own government with a president, court system, and legislature and exercises considerable autonomy. In October 2015 the country held its fifth multiparty general election. Voting in the union and Zanzibari elections was judged to be largely free and fair, resulting in the election of a union president (John Magufuli). The chair of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, however, declared the parallel election for Zanzibar’s president and legislature nullified after only part of the votes had been tabulated, precipitating a political crisis on the islands. New elections in Zanzibar in March were neither inclusive nor representative; the incumbent (Ali Mohamed Shein) was declared the winner with 91 percent of the vote.

Union security forces reported to civilian authorities, but civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.

The most widespread human rights problems in the country were use of excessive force by security forces, resulting in death and injury; restrictions on assembly and political expression; and gender-based violence, including rape, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation/cutting.

Other major human rights problems included harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention, limits to freedom of expression on the internet, restrictions on religious freedom, restrictions on the movement of refugees, official corruption at many levels nationwide, child abuse, discrimination based on sexual orientation, mob killings and injuries, and societal violence against persons with albinism. Trafficking in persons, both internal and international, and child labor were also problems.

In some cases the government took steps to investigate and prosecute officials who committed abuses, but generally, impunity in the police and other security forces and civilian branches of government was widespread.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

During the year there were several reports police committed unlawful killings. As of October media reported 10 cases of extrajudicial killings. Nine of these involved encounters between police and persons suspected of involvement with violent extremism, and one of which occurred during a confrontation between police and livestock keepers in Bagamoyo District.

The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Mining Watch Canada reported continuing violence at the North Mara gold mine owned by African Barrick Gold, where there were past reports of mine security personnel and police using lethal force. Since September 2014 local human rights sources recorded at least 22 cases of alleged unlawful killings by police or mine security personnel at the mine.

b. Disappearance

There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The constitution prohibits such practices; however, the law does not reflect this constitutional restriction nor define torture. There were reports police officers, prison guards, and soldiers abused, threatened, and otherwise mistreated civilians, suspected criminals, and prisoners. In August an official of a political opposition party reported he had both of his legs broken during beatings while in police custody. Accountability for those who committed such abuses was limited. These abuses most commonly involved beatings.

During the year the United Nations reported allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by Tanzanian peacekeepers deployed to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of the allegations involved one soldier for incidents alleged to have taken place in 2015; investigation by the government of Tanzania remained pending at year’s end. The other involved 12 military personnel concerning incidents alleged to have taken place between unspecified dates in 2014-15. UN and Tanzanian investigations substantiated allegations against two individuals and did not substantiate allegations against nine individuals; an allegation against one individual remained pending investigation.

The law allows caning. Local government officials and courts occasionally used caning as a punishment for both juvenile and adult offenders. Caning and other corporal punishment were also used routinely in schools.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Inadequate food, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and insufficient medical care were pervasive. According to the commissioner general of prisons, funding for prisons was less than half the level required to provide adequate care for prisoners. There were no private detention facilities.

Physical Conditions: As of December 2015, the prisons, whose total designed capacity was for 29,552 inmates, held 31,382, 6 percent above designed capacity. Pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners were held together. Authorities sometimes imprisoned irregular migrants before releasing them to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) if there was a pending asylum claim. Other irregular migrants were occasionally arrested if they bypassed refugee transportation services and attempted to work in Tanzanian border towns without permission.

Authorities held minors together with adults in several prisons due to lack of detention facilities. In 2013 the independent government department, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), visited selected prisons and detention facilities and found 452 minors detained in the adult prisons visited. Among these, 101 were convicts and 351 were pretrial detainees. In several adult prisons, minors were placed in a separate cell but mixed with adults during the day and while being transported to court. In other prisons children and adults mixed at all times.

Information on the prevalence of deaths in prisons, whether deliberate or unintended, was not available. According to government officials, there were deaths in prison due to HIV/AIDS.

Physical abuse of prisoners was common. Witnesses noted prisoners were routinely beaten.

Prison staff reported food and water shortages, a lack of electricity, inadequate lighting, and insufficient medical supplies. Prisons were unheated, but prisoners in cold regions of the country reportedly received blankets and sweaters. Sanitation was insufficient.

Medical care was inadequate. The most common health complaints by prisoners concerned malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and diseases related to poor sanitation. Prison dispensaries offered only limited treatment, and friends and family members of prisoners generally had to provide medications or the funds to purchase them. Limited transportation also affected the ability of prison staff to take prisoners to health centers and hospitals.

Administration: Judges and magistrates conducted regular visits to inspect prisons and hear concerns from convicts and detainees. In addition, relatives of inmates made complaints to the CHRAGG, which investigated reports of abuse, but the results of those investigations were not public. Recordkeeping in prisons was inadequate and resulted in discrepancies in reporting. Authorities did not take steps to improve record keeping.

On the mainland prisoners could submit complaints to judicial authorities. The CHRAGG also served as the official ombudsman. The union Ministry of Home Affairs’ Public Complaints Department and a prison services public relations unit responded to public complaints and inquiries sent to them directly or through the media about prison conditions.

Prisoners and detainees usually had reasonable access to visitors and could worship freely, with some exceptions. Seventh-day Adventists reported they had to work on Saturday. The mainland authorities often moved prisoners to different prisons without notifying their families.

Independent Monitoring: The law prohibits members of the press from visiting prisons. Generally, access to prisoners was difficult for outside organizations, and the process for obtaining access was cumbersome. The International Committee of the Red Cross conducted two prison visits in Zanzibar during the year. The Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) conducted a prison visit in July.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.


Under the union’s Ministry of Home Affairs, the Tanzanian Police Force (TPF) has primary responsibility for maintaining law and order in the country. The Field Force Unit, a special division of the TPF, has primary responsibility for controlling unlawful demonstrations and riots. During the year there were reports of use of excessive force, police corruption, and impunity. Mainland police sometimes acted as prosecutors in lower courts. Although the TPF stated this practice was being phased out, the Ministry of Justice reported police continued to act as prosecutors in all districts except for Monduli and regional headquarters. Police reported to civilian authorities (regional commissioners, district commissioners, and police leadership) appointed by the president. The ruling party, therefore, maintained de facto control of police forces, which contributed to police abuses, particularly in opposition party strongholds.

Sungusungu, or citizens’ patrols, and traditional neighborhood anticrime groups existed throughout the mainland. The law grants them the power to make arrests. In general these groups provided neighborhood security at night. Sungusungu members are not permitted to carry firearms or machetes but may carry sticks or clubs. They coordinated with municipal governing authorities as well as police but operated independently from police. They formed or disbanded based on the perceived local need. In areas surrounding refugee camps, sungusungu members have authority to arrest refugees found outside the camps without permission. Within the camp, groups composed of refugees provided security, supplementing the police.

The Ministry of Defense is responsible for external security; it also has some limited domestic security responsibilities. The National Service is a branch of military service similar to a national guard; its service is primarily domestic.

Police and other security forces acted with impunity in many cases. While legal mechanisms exist for investigation and prosecution of security forces, authorities did not often use them. Police continued to hold educational seminars for officers to combat corruption and sometimes took disciplinary action against officers implicated in wrongdoing. In July a police officer from an antiriot unit was sentenced to 15 years in prison following his conviction for manslaughter in the 2012 killing of a journalist covering a political rally.

The mainland community policing initiative to improve community relations with police and enhance police effectiveness continued. Community police received standardized training, and police conducted awareness campaigns for citizens on how to assist community policing units. In Zanzibar the government continued similar training and awareness programs. Officials noted increases in assistance provided to police, leading to arrests and improved law enforcement.

A group of security units, referred to collectively as the “Zanzibar Special Forces,” was deployed at the district level for activities that would fall under police jurisdiction on the mainland. These forces report to the government of Zanzibar and are not affiliated with the TPF or the Tanzanian People’s Defense Forces. Recruitment, training, and actual command and control of the “special units” were opaque, although all units officially report to a top ruling party minister in Zanzibar. These units, including the fire brigade and prison guards, were often activated during political activities, such as voter registration or voting. Prior to the March rerun elections in Zanzibar, opposition parties and civil society organizations reported these units were involved in sporadic attacks on opposition supporters.


On the mainland the law requires that persons be apprehended openly with warrants based on sufficient evidence, although authorities did not always comply with the law. Police often detained persons without judicial authorization. The law also requires that a person arrested for a crime, other than a national security detainee, be charged before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest, excluding weekends and holidays, but police failed to comply consistently with this requirement. For example, Isaack Habakuk Emily, arrested on March 22 for violation of the Cybercrime Act, was not arraigned in court until April 15. In general authorities promptly informed detainees of the charges against them. There were reports of police using a rolling process of releasing and immediately rearresting individuals so that they would remain in custody while police completed their investigation and developed the required information for the accused to be charged.

The law does not allow bail for suspects in cases involving charges of murder, treason, drugs, armed robbery, human trafficking, or other violent offenses where the accused might pose a public safety risk. In some cases courts imposed strict conditions on freedom of movement and association when they granted bail. In the primary and district courts, persons sometimes bribed officials to grant bail. The law gives accused persons the right to contact a lawyer or talk with family members, but police often failed to inform detainees of this right. The government provided legal representation for some indigent defendants and for all suspects charged with murder or treason. Prompt access to counsel was often limited by the lack of lawyers in rural areas, lack of communication systems and infrastructure, and accused persons’ ignorance of their rights.

Arbitrary Arrest: By law the president may order the arrest and indefinite detention without bail of any person considered dangerous to the public order or national security. The government must release such detainees within 15 days or inform them of the reason for their continued detention. The law also allows a detainee to challenge the grounds for detention at 90-day intervals. The mainland government has additional broad detention powers under the law, allowing regional and district commissioners to arrest and detain for 24 hours anyone who “disturb[s] public tranquility.” Press reports indicated district commissioners or members of regional security committees, which are part of regional governments, ordered the arrest of at least nine persons during the year. Most of those arrested were journalists working on sensitive stories.

Pretrial Detention: According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, approximately 50 percent of the prison population consisted of pretrial detainees in 2015 (the latest available data). Detainees charged with crimes generally waited three to four years for trial due to a lack of judges to hear cases, an inadequate judicial budget, and the lengthy time required to complete police investigations.

Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: The law allows persons arrested or detained, regardless of whether on criminal or other grounds, the right to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention and obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have been unlawfully detained. The law requires that a civil case must be brought in order to make such a challenge. In practice this was rarely done.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but many components of the judiciary remained underfunded, corrupt, inefficient (especially in the lower courts), and subject to executive influence. Judges and senior court officers are all political appointees of the president. The need to travel long distances to courts imposes logistical and financial constraints that limit access to justice for persons in rural areas. There were fewer than two judges per million persons. Court clerks reportedly continued to take bribes to open cases or hide or misdirect the files of those accused of crimes. According to news reports, magistrates of lower courts occasionally accepted bribes to determine the outcome of cases.


The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, but a weak judiciary often failed to protect this right.

The law provides for the presumption of innocence. In most cases authorities informed detainees in detail of the charges against them once they had been brought to the police station. Charges were generally presented in Kiswahili or English with needed interpretation provided when possible. With some exceptions, criminal trials were open to the public and the press. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial. Courts that hold closed proceedings (for example, in drug trafficking cases and sexual offenses involving juveniles) generally are required to provide reasons for closing the proceedings. In cases involving terrorism, the law provides that everyone, except the interested parties, may be excluded from court proceedings and witnesses may be heard under special arrangements for their protection.

In Tanzania the law requires legal aid in serious criminal cases, although in practice only those accused of murder and treason were provided with free representation. Most other defendants could not afford legal representation and represented themselves in court. Defendants in criminal matters are entitled to legal representation of their choice. In practice legal representation was unavailable to defendants without the means to pay. NGOs represented some indigent defendants in large cities, such as Dar es Salaam and Arusha. In Zanzibar there were no public defenders. The law prohibits lawyers from appearing or defending clients in primary-level courts whose presiding officers are not degree-holding magistrates. Human rights groups criticized several reported cases where lawyers attempting to represent clients in sensitive cases were themselves arrested. In July a lawyer from the prominent Legal and Human Rights Center was arrested and detained for more than 24 hours while trying to meet with clients in a sensitive land rights case.

Authorities did not always allow detainees sufficient time to prepare their defense, and access to adequate facilities was limited. Defendants had the right to free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals. Defendants or their lawyers had access to evidence held by the government, the right to confront prosecution witnesses, and the right to present evidence and witnesses on the defendant’s behalf. Defendants were not compelled to testify or confess guilt.

All defendants charged with civil or criminal matters, except parties appearing before Zanzibari qadi courts (traditional Muslim courts that settle issues of divorce and inheritance), could appeal decisions to the respective mainland and Zanzibari high courts. All defendants can appeal decisions to the union Court of Appeal.

Police acted in some cases as prosecutors in lower courts, but authorities stated this practice was being phased out. Judicial experts criticized the practice of police acting as prosecutors because of the risk police might manipulate evidence in criminal cases. The mainland Ministry of Justice continued hiring and training state prosecutors to handle the entire mainland caseload.


There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.


Persons may bring civil lawsuits seeking damages for or the cessation of human rights violations and can appeal those rulings to the Court of Appeal on the mainland and other regional courts. Civil judicial procedures, however, were often slow, inefficient, and corrupt. Individuals and organizations with observer status had the right to bring complaints to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law generally prohibits such actions without a search warrant, but the government did not consistently respect these prohibitions. While only courts may issue search warrants, the law also authorizes searches of persons and premises without a warrant if necessary to prevent the loss or destruction of evidence or if circumstances are serious and urgent. The law relating to terrorism permits police officers at or above the rank of assistant superintendent or in charge of a police station to conduct searches without a warrant in certain urgent cases, but there were no reports this occurred.

It was widely believed government agents monitored the telephones and correspondence of some citizens and foreign residents. The nature and extent of this practice were unknown.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution provides for freedom of speech but does not explicitly provide for freedom of the press.

Freedom of Speech and Expression: Individuals could criticize the government both publicly and privately, but some persons expressed concern about doing so in public. Authorities used the Cybercrime Act to bring criminal charges against individuals who criticized the government in a variety of electronic media.

Press and Media Freedoms: The independent media on the mainland were active and generally expressed a wide variety of views. The union Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts, and Sports reported there were 126 radio stations, 28 television stations, nine cable television providers, 62 weekly newspapers, and 16 daily newspapers. In Zanzibar the government controlled the only local daily newspaper (mainland newspapers were available), a television station, and one of the seven radio stations.

Two mainland newspapers (Daily News and Habari Leo) were owned by the government, one (Uhuru) by the ruling Party of the Revolution (CCM), and another (Daima) by the chair of the Party of Democracy and Development (Chadema) opposition party. The remaining newspapers were independent, although close associates of political party members owned some of them. Registering or licensing new media outlets, both print and broadcast, continued to be difficult. Newspaper registration was at the discretion of the registrar of newspapers at the information ministry on both the mainland and Zanzibar. Acquiring a broadcasting license from the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) took an estimated six months to one year, and the TCRA restricted the area of broadcast coverage.

The Zanzibari government-owned daily newspaper had an estimated circulation of 25,000. There was one privately owned weekly newspaper with a much smaller circulation. The government of Zanzibar controlled content on the radio and television stations it owned. There were government restrictions on broadcasting in tribal languages; broadcasts in Kiswahili or English were officially preferred. The six private radio stations on Zanzibar operated independently, often reading the content of national dailies, including articles critical of the Zanzibari government.

On the mainland the government generally did not restrict the publication of books. The publication of books on Zanzibar was uncommon.

Violence and Harassment: Law enforcement authorities and crowds attacked, harassed, and intimidated journalists during the year. For example, in March, Mwananchi Communications Limited journalist Salma Maulid was abducted and beaten by unknown assailants while reporting on elections in Zanzibar.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: The law authorizes police to raid and seize materials from newspaper offices without a warrant and authorizes the minister of information to close media outlets for undefined reasons of “public interest” or “the interest of peace and good order.”

A permit was required for reporting on police or prison activities, both on the mainland and in Zanzibar, and journalists needed special permission to cover meetings of the Tanzanian National Assembly or attend meetings in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Anyone publishing information accusing a Zanzibari representative of involvement in illegal activities was liable to a fine of not less than 250,000 Tanzanian shillings (TZS) ($115), three years’ imprisonment, or both. Nothing in the law specifies whether this penalty stands if the allegation is proven true. The government may fine and suspend newspapers without warning.

There were examples of the government repressing information. For example, on August 29, the government shut down radio stations Magic FM Dar es Salaam and Five Arusha on the grounds they broadcast seditious content on August 17 and 25, respectively. Media outlets often practiced self-censorship to avoid conflict with the government. The LHRC reported journalists from both private and public media were concerned about censorship of stories by editors fearful of criticizing government leaders or policies. The LHRC reported broadcasters were required to submit reports stating who would appear and what would be discussed to the TCRA prior to any live broadcasts. In August the minister of information, culture, arts, and sport stated the government would ban any media publishing inflammatory statements in its coverage of demonstrations or political rallies.

Government repression of the media extended to online newspapers and journals. In January, the Kiswahili weekly newspaper Mawiowas permanently banned from publishing in print and online under the 1976 Newspaper Act for allegedly inciting violence by declaring the opposition candidate the winner of the 2015 presidential elections in Zanzibar and running a headline warning of unrest to come in Zanzibar. In August, under the Electronic and Postal Communication Act, Kiswahili weekly newspaper Mseto was suspended for three years and banned from publishing stories online for publishing an article critical of the president.

Libel/Slander Laws: The law provides for arrest, prosecution, and punishment for the use of seditious, abusive, or derogatory language to describe the country’s leadership.

The TCRA vowed to be more vigilant while overseeing media coverage after the passage of the Cybercrime Act in 2015, which states any violation of the license requirements would be subject to severe penalties, including possible deregistration. Television station ITV and radio station Radio One were issued strong warnings and instructed to apologize on air on two consecutive days for “provocative statements” made by a member of parliament (MP) during a live broadcast, although no action was taken against the MP. The TCRA ordered television station Clouds TV to apologize on five consecutive days for transmitting an interview with a transgender woman in July on the grounds that it had broadcast a program that failed to protect Tanzanian values.

On September 4, the High Court lifted an indefinite ban on the Kiswahili investigative newspaper Mwanahalisi, which was banned in 2012 for allegedly threatening national security. The judge said he was convinced Information, Youth, Culture, and Sports Minister Fenella Mukangara breached procedure when banning the newspaper.


While the government did not restrict access to the internet, it monitored websites and internet traffic that criticized the government, and it also sought to combat illegal activities. According to the TCRA’s January-March 2016 report, 17.3 million persons (34 percent of the population) used the internet in 2015. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 5.36 percent of the population used the internet that year.

The Cybercrimes Act of 2015 criminalizes the publication of false information, defined as “information, data or facts presented in a picture, texts, symbol, or any other form in a computer system where such information, data, or fact is false, deceptive, misleading, or inaccurate.” Several individuals who made critical comments about the government on electronic media were charged under the act, even when remarks reflected opinions or were factually true.

On June 8, Isaac Habakuki Emire was sentenced to three months in prison or a fine of TZS seven million ($3,220) for online statements referring to President Magufuli as a “coward” and a self-promoter who should not be compared to Julius Nyerere, the country’s first president.

In mid-December human rights groups criticized the arrest of Maxense Melo, founder of the popular Jamii Forums website, a popular online forum for political discussions, on a variety of charges, including failure to cooperate with a police investigation. Police reportedly asked Melo to reveal the identities of online commentators who posted remarks critical of the government.


There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association


The constitution provides for freedom of assembly, but the government did not always respect this right.

The government requires organizers of rallies to obtain police permission. Police may deny permission on public safety or security grounds or if the permit seeker belongs to an unregistered organization or political party. The government and police continued to limit the issuance of permits for public demonstrations and assemblies to political parties, NGOs, and religious organizations. During a June speech at State House, the president declared the 2015 election over and the opposition should confine its political opinions to appropriate platforms, such as parliament, until the next election cycle in 2020. Also in June the police commissioner for operations and training announced the police had banned any form of political demonstration or rally until further notice, claiming such meetings were intended to incite civil disobedience. The same day police broke up a rally by opposition party Chadema, which had previously been issued a permit, and made 22 arrests. Later that month police barred opposition party ACT Wazalendo from holding an indoor meeting to discuss and review the 2016-17 budget. Again in June police in three cities broke up graduation ceremonies organized by an opposition party for members of its student organization.


The constitution provides for freedom of association, and the government generally respected this right. Thousands of NGOs and societies operated in the country. Political parties were required to register and meet membership and other requirements. Freedom of association for workers was limited (see section 7.a.).

The registration process for associations outside Zanzibar was slow, particularly for religious and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex organizations. The law makes a distinction between NGOs and societies and applies different registration procedures to the two. It defines a society as any club, company, partnership, or association of 10 or more persons, regardless of its purpose, and notes specific categories of organizations not considered to be societies, such as political parties. The law defines NGOs to include organizations whose purpose is to promote economic, environmental, social, or cultural development; protect the environment; or lobby or advocate on issues of public interest. Societies and organizations may not operate until authorities approve their applications.

Religious organizations are registered as societies and wait the longest–an average of four years–for registration. From July 2015 to March, the Registrar of Societies received 472 registration applications, 26 of which came from religious institutions. The registrar registered 404 societies and rejected 13 applications; 55 applications remained unprocessed. The government rarely registered societies within the legally required 14-day period. The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children registered other NGOs. The process took two to five years.

NGOs in Zanzibar apply for registration with the Zanzibar Business and Property Registration Agency. While registration generally took several weeks, some NGOs waited months if the registrar determined additional research was needed.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. In late 2015 the government banned official international travel by civil servants without authorization from State House.

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: Refugees may not travel more than 2.5 miles outside their camp without permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Refugees apprehended outside the camps without permits are subject by law to sentences ranging from a fine up to a three-year prison sentence. UNHCR reported that when police apprehended refugees outside the camp without permits, they were normally held in the prison nearest to where they were arrested. Unless the infraction connected the detainee with another criminal issue, police generally released these individuals back into the camp, where camp officials sometimes ordered the refugee to perform community service.

Sexual and gender-based violence of refugees continued. UNHCR worked with local authorities and residents in the three refugee camps to strengthen coordination and address violence, including sexual violence, against vulnerable persons. UNHCR reported the most frequent gender-based violence crimes were rape and physical assault, followed by psychological and emotional abuse. The government investigated, prosecuted, and punished perpetrators of abuses in the camp; local authorities handled most cases of refugees involved in crime and abuse outside the camp. Residents of the refugee camps suffered delays and limited access to courts, common problems also faced by citizens.

The government generally cooperated with UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers.


Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has an established system for providing protection to refugees. The National Eligibility Committee (NEC) is mandated to meet regularly and make determinations on asylum applications, and was reviewing a backlog of several hundred claims.

During the year the NEC made formal determinations on pending asylum cases; most involved individuals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had been residing in Burundi.

During the year the government allowed UNHCR to reopen a third former refugee camp to accommodate the large increase in the refugee population resulting from instability in Burundi and to maintain prima facie refugee status for new Burundi arrivals. Third-country nationals who were previously recognized as refugees in Burundi, as well as Burundian citizens, were eligible for prima facie refugee status.

The international NGO Asylum Access reported many persons with refugee claims were living in Dar es Salaam. The government often treated these individuals as undocumented immigrants, deporting or imprisoning them if they faced criminal charges. Arrest was often the only situation in which the government came into contact with urban refugees. Observers believed many urban refugees, if given the opportunity, would be able to demonstrate a need for international protection that would qualify them for refugee status. Since urban refugees were not formally registered with UNHCR and the government, however, they had very little access to health care and education, and employment opportunities were limited to the informal sector. There was no policy or infrastructure to serve this group.

UNHCR processed irregular migrants arrested by authorities for possible asylum, but police continued to hold them in prisons.

From December 2014 to February 2015, the government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted a registration campaign for irregular migrants in Kigoma intended to provide a basis for either regularizing their status or voluntary return to their places of origin. The project registered 22,282 persons. Kigoma regional authorities stated an additional 400 persons had been registered since the end of the project. The IOM began a program to supply biometric registration equipment to immigration authorities across the country.

Safe Country of Origin/Transit: No policy for blanket or presumptive denials of asylum exists for applicants arriving from “safe country of origin” or through a “safe country of transit.” All asylum applications are evaluated individually. The law provides that, unless the transit country is experiencing a serious breach of peace, an asylum claim can be refused upon failure to show reasonable cause as to why asylum was not claimed in the transit country prior to entry into Tanzania.

Freedom of Movement: Encampment policy does not allow refugees to travel more than 2.5 miles outside the boundaries of official refugee camps without permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The ministry generally granted permission for purposes such as medical referrals and court appearances.

Employment: The government generally did not permit refugees to pursue employment and restricted refugees’ attempts to farm land within the camps.

Durable Solutions: In 2014 the Ministry of Home Affairs granted citizenship to 1,514 members of the Wazigua ethnic group (formerly known as Somali Bantu) and 162,156 Burundian refugees. In December 2015 the ministry reported that 98 percent of these persons had become citizens.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to participate in public elections, but it allows parliament to restrict this right if a citizen is a citizen of another state, mentally infirm, convicted of certain criminal offenses, or omits or fails to prove or produce evidence as to age, citizenship, or registration as a voter. Citizens exercised that ability for the union presidential elections. The chairperson of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced he had nullified the October 2015 Zanzibar elections; new elections in March were neither inclusive nor representative.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In October 2015 the country held its fifth multiparty general election in which voters elected a new president and legislative representatives. The union elections were judged to be largely free and fair. The CCM, however, benefited from vastly superior financial and institutional resources.

In the presidential election, John Magufuli, the CCM candidate, was elected with 58 percent of the vote to replace Jakaya Kikwete, who was not eligible to run for a third term. Four opposition parties combined in the Coalition for the People’s Constitution to support a single candidate, who ran under the Chadema banner, as the law does not recognize coalitions. In parliamentary elections the CCM retained its majority in parliament with nearly 73 percent of the seats.

Separate elections are held for the union and for Zanzibar, ordinarily on the same day, in which citizens of the two parts of the union elect local officials, members of the national parliament, and a union (national) president. Additionally, Zanzibar separately elects a president of Zanzibar and members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives. The voting in Zanzibar in October 2015 was judged to be largely free and fair. Following the vote, however, when tabulation of the results was more than half completed, the chairperson of the ZEC announced he had nullified the Zanzibar elections, although according to the constitution and law, the commission does not have the authority to do so. This decision precipitated a political crisis in the semiautonomous archipelago, with the opposition candidate declaring he had won. New elections in March were neither inclusive nor representative. They were boycotted by the opposition, which claimed they would not be fair. Following the new elections, the ZEC announced President Shein had won with 91 percent of the vote, with the ruling CCM party sweeping nearly all seats in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Official voter turnout was announced at 68 percent, although numerous sources estimated actual turnout at closer to 25 percent.

From February to August 2015, officials conducted national registration of voters using a Biometric Voter Registration system that collected a photograph and two thumb prints. Registration concluded with 22,751,292 eligible voters registered on the mainland and 503,193 registered in Zanzibar.

Political Parties and Political Participation: The constitution requires that persons running for office must represent a registered political party. The law prohibits unregistered parties. The number of political parties with full registration remained at 22 during the year.

The registrar of political parties has sole authority to approve registration of any political party and is responsible for enforcing regulations on registered parties. Parties granted provisional registration may hold public meetings and recruit members. To secure full registration, parties must submit lists of at least 200 members in 10 of the country’s 31 regions, including two of the five regions of Zanzibar. In September the registration of new political parties was suspended indefinitely for lack of funds, according to the registrar.

The law requires political parties to support the union between Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania) and Zanzibar; parties based on ethnic, regional, or religious affiliation are prohibited.

During the year the president stated political activity should be confined only to parliamentary business and interaction between members of parliament and their constituents until the next election cycle in 2020. On May 7, police barred a group of political opposition leaders from entering their party regional offices, on the grounds that no political activity was allowed to take place in the region. On June 7, the TPF banned indefinitely all political rallies across the country, claiming such meetings were intended to incite civil disobedience. On August 23, the inspector general of police extended the ban to include indoor private meetings and public rallies; the indoor restriction was lifted on September 22.

The election law provides for a “gratuity” payment of TZS 235 million to TZS 280 million ($108,000-129,000) to MPs completing a five-year term. Incumbents can use these funds in re-election campaigns. Several NGOs and opposition parties criticized this provision for impeding aspiring opposition parliamentary candidates from mounting effective challenges.

The mainland government allowed political opponents unrestricted access to public media, but the ruling party had far more funding to purchase broadcast time.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Some observers believed cultural constraints limited women’s participation in politics. In the October 2015 election, Tanzania elected a woman as vice president for the first time. Few women won elected constituent seats in parliament or in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. There were special women’s seats in both parliament and the Zanzibar House of Representatives.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

While the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Corruption was generally perceived to be rampant at all levels nationwide. After taking office, President Magufuli took several high-profile steps to signal a commitment to fighting corruption. These included surprise inspections of ministries, hospitals, and the port of Dar es Salaam, often followed by the immediate dismissal of officials. The 2016-17 fiscal year budget, however, included a substantial cut to the funding for the Office of the Controller and Auditor General, one of the country’s two main anticorruption bodies.

Corruption: According to the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), most corruption investigations concerned government involvement in mining, land matters, energy, and investments. Through June the PCCB reported it had opened 412 new investigations and forwarded 133 case files to the director of public prosecutions for action. There were 232 new cases filed and 509 cases underway in court. Two hundred ninety-four cases were concluded, with 125 convictions and 152 acquittals. According to Afrobarometer findings for 2014-15, the most corrupt entities were the police, Tanzania Revenue Authority, courts, and local government. NGOs reported that allegations of corruption involved the Tanzania Revenue Authority, local government officials, police, licensing authorities, hospital workers, and the media.

In February the remaining portions of prison sentences of the former ministers for finance and for energy and minerals convicted in 2015 on corruption charges were reduced to community service.

Corruption featured in newspaper articles, civil complaints, and reports of police corruption from the PCCB and from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The PCCB’s mandate excludes Zanzibar. In Zanzibar the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Authority received 56 complaints, 37 of which were under investigation.

Financial Disclosure: Government ministers and MPs, as well as certain other public servants, are required to disclose their assets upon assuming office, annually at year’s end, and upon leaving office. Although penalties exist for noncompliance, there was no enforcement mechanism or means to determine the accuracy of such disclosures. The Ethics Secretariat distributes forms each October for collection in December. In May the minister of state responsible for the central establishment in the President’s Office reported 1,081 public officials–up to the level of government ministers–did not submit their wealth declaration forms by the end of 2015. Secretariat officials previously stated the individuals who failed to meet the deadline were asked to show cause for the delay. Any declaration forms submitted or filed after the deadline must explain the failure to observe the law. Asset disclosures are not public. In February the president issued an ultimatum to four ministers and one deputy minister to submit their declaration forms in one day or be fired.

Public Access to Information: In September parliament passed the Access to Information Act, establishing the right of citizens to access government information. Stakeholders publicly raised concerns about the law’s potential impact.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials generally were cooperative and responsive to their views. Some human rights NGOs complained of a negative government reaction when they challenged government practice or policy.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The union parliamentary Committee for Constitutional, Legal, and Public Administration is responsible for reporting and making recommendations regarding human rights. The new committee formed since the 2015 elections retains a majority of members from the ruling CCM party.

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance operated on both the mainland and Zanzibar; funding levels limited its effectiveness. The commission has no legal authority to prosecute cases but can make recommendations to other offices concerning remedies or call media attention to human rights abuses and violations and other public complaints. From January through June, the commission investigated 7,672 complaints, of which 375 were new. Of the complaints, 844 involved misuse of authority, 652 involved not having received benefits, and 582 covered employment and disciplinary issues. A total of 242 complaints were closed: 50 were justified/successful, 25 were not justified/not successful, 20 were directed to other authorities after investigation, 92 were outside the jurisdiction of the commission, and 55 were declined for various reasons, including lack of cooperation from complainants.

Human Rights Reports
Edit Your Custom Report

01 / Select a Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future