10 DECEMBER 2013, DAR ES SALAAM: I feel honoured to celebrate International Human Rights Day on behalf of the United Nations in Tanzania with the official launching of the first National Human Rights Action Plan in Tanzania, as well as the Five Year Strategy for Child Justice Reform. I therefore would like to take this opportunity to note this achievement with a round of applause! I am also privileged to greet the Honourable Vice President, Dr. Gharib Bilal and thank him for showing his support to this remarkable step forward in the realisation of human rights in Tanzania.
Each year, International Human Rights Day presents an opportunity to celebrate human rights, highlight specific issues and advocate for their promotion and protection, but this year is particularly rewarding as it celebrates the launch of two essential tools that will assist in the practical implementation of human rights for every person in Tanzania.
The UN, as the custodian of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Global Human Rights Conventions and Treaties, wants to reiterate the fundamental message that human rights are interlinked and interdependent, inherent to all human beings without any discrimination based on nationality, ethnic origin, sex, religion, language, or caste and creed, age or any other status.
This year, the international spotlight is on the 20th anniversary of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and sustained and emerging issues such as human rights defenders, equality and participation in economic and political life, the World Wide Web and the free flow of information. In Tanzania, issues such as gender based violence and violence against children, discrimination of key populations and vulnerable groups, corruption and access to justice remain high on the national human rights agenda.
The development of a National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) for Tanzania is a definitive step in realising the fundamental rights of all citizens and also focusing on the rights of certain groups to ensure nobody is left behind. These groups include; women, children, children in conflict with the law, people with disabilities, prisoners, elderly, refugees, and PLHIV. The National Human Rights Action Plan also focuses on the right to freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly, the promotion of human rights and business, as well as strengthening the capacity of CHRAGG to advance a more robust human rights architecture throughout the country.
On behalf of the UN System, I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), Attorney General’s Office (AGC), academia and civil society from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar for developing such a comprehensive tool.
The UN has been pleased to support the National Human Rights Action Plan’s development process from the initial meetings in October 2008 to providing financial and technical cooperation throughout the consultations. As a result of such successful collaboration, the UN was delighted to receive a request from the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance for further support throughout the implementation of the Plan.
While UNDP is specifically supporting the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation through building the capacity of Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Attorney General Chambers and the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, a range of other UN agencies will support the Government in implementing substantive activities in the Plan. Such implementation will become a combined entry point for members of the human rights community in Tanzania to work together and enjoy joint ownership over the achievement of sustainable results.
In essence, the effective implementation of the national human rights action plan provides a practical framework to involve and educate all citizens on their human rights and provide them with the knowledge and grounding to challenge outdated norms and demand change in society.
Furthermore, I want to also congratulate the Government of Tanzania, and in particular the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, for the launch of the groundbreaking Child Justice Strategy. This Strategy, developed with the support of UNICEF, takes the broad objectives and actions contained in the National Human Rights Action Plan and sets out exactly the steps that each Ministry, Department and Agency will take over the next five years to strengthen the capacity of the justice system for children.
In Tanzania, children are one of the most vulnerable groups in society to human rights violations. International instruments, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, highlight this vulnerability and call upon states to take specific steps to ensure the protection and promotion of children’s human rights. Significantly, the National Human Rights Action Plan includes sections dedicated to the promotion and protection of children’s rights. The Plan also recognizes that rights without enforcement are meaningless and children need support to access justice and challenge violations of their rights.
The implementation of the Child Justice Strategy will ensure that every child who has their rights violated can access justice and that every child who comes into contact with the justice system, whether as a victim, witness, perpetrator or civil claimant, receives fair, effective and timely justice and is treated in a manner that upholds their rights and their dignity.
The launch of the Child Justice Strategy signifies that the Government of Tanzania is strongly committed to taking the National Human Rights Action Plan from paper to practice.
To close, I would like to quote the former UN Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, ‘The right to development is the measure of the respect of all other human rights. That should be our aim: a situation in which all individuals are enabled to maximize their potential, and to contribute to the evolution of society as a whole.