Head of state
Jakaya Kikwete
Head of government
Mizengo Peter Pinda
Head of Zanzibar government
Ali Mohamed Shein
Death penalty
abolitionist in practice
46.2 million
Life expectancy
58.2 years
Under-5 mortality
107.9 per 1,000
Adult literacy
72.9 per cent

Burundian refugees continued to live under threat of forced repatriation. Police and other law enforcement officials accused of committing human rights violations, including unlawful killings, were not brought to justice. Impunity continued for perpetrators of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence.


The Constitution Review Act 2011, which set up a Commission to lead the constitutional review process, was passed in November amid protests by the minority opposition members of Parliament that the public consultation on the new law was inadequate. Representatives of the opposition party Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) continued to call for a review of the law, particularly provisions giving the President exclusive powers to appoint the Commission.

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Refugees and migrants

Following a meeting in May between representatives of the governments of Tanzania and Burundi, and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the government of Tanzania announced its intention to close down Mtabila camp – home to about 38,000 Burundian refugees – by the end of December 2011. Tanzania also announced its intention to remove refugee protection by invoking the ceased circumstances clause of the UN Refugee Convention. Although the government expected that some 20,000 refugees would voluntarily return to Burundi, the affected refugees remained reluctant to return. The government announced in September that it was holding interviews with affected refugees regarding their ongoing protection needs; however, there remained no procedures in place to assess whether repatriation was a valid option. Affected refugees remained fearful of being forced to return to Burundi.

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There were reports of unlawful killings and torture and other ill-treatment by the police and other law enforcement officials during security operations in some parts of the country. More than 20 people reportedly died from gunshot wounds during the year, after the police used lethal force to quell demonstrations or to prevent illegal access to mining areas.

  • In January, at least three people died in Arusha town after police used live ammunition to disperse opposition party supporters who were protesting the election of a ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi candidate to the local mayoral seat. By the end of the year, no adequate investigations into these killings had been carried out and those responsible had not been brought to justice.
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Violence against women and girls

Sexual and other forms of gender-based violence remained widespread, particularly domestic violence. Few perpetrators were brought to justice. The practice of female genital mutilation remained prevalent in some areas of the country.

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Freedom of expression

Legislation such as the Newspapers Act, the National Security Act and the Broadcasting Services Act remained in place. These laws empower the authorities to restrict media work on the basis of broad, undefined provisions such as “public interest”, “the interests of peace and good order” and “national security interests”. By the end of the year the government had failed to formally adopt two proposed draft laws – the Freedom of Information Bill 2006 and the Media Services Bill 2007 – and failed to incorporate the concerns expressed by civil society representatives into the Freedom of Information Bill. If enacted, the two laws would recognize the right to access information and repeal laws that allow illegitimate restrictions on press freedom.

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Discrimination – attacks on albino people

There were no new reports of albino people being killed for their body parts during the year, although there were at least five attempted killings. The government’s efforts to prevent human rights abuses against albino people continued to be inadequate.

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Prison conditions

There were continued reports of overcrowding and unsanitary and poor living conditions in prisons. The Legal and Human Rights Centre, a local human rights NGO, reported that there were over 38,000 inmates in Tanzania’s mainland prisons, despite a capacity of about 27,653. The organization attributed the problem of overcrowding and poor living conditions to the ineffectiveness of the judicial system, the lack of proper physical infrastructure and inadequate staffing in the country’s prisons.

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Death penalty

Courts continued to hand down the death penalty for capital offences; however, there were no executions carried out during the year. A court petition filed by three local civil society organizations in 2008 challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty remained pending in the High Court.

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  • An Amnesty International delegate visited mainland Tanzania in November.