Dirco Mum On the Arrest of SA Human Rights Activists in Tanzania

The Tanzanian High Commission in Pretoria was on Tuesday flocked by a crowd of protesters, demanding the release of 13 people, including two South African human rights lawyers, arrested for allegedly promoting homosexuality in the capital Dar es Salaam.

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, Isla's Faathima Mahomed raised her concerns around the long period between when they were arrested and when they will first appear in court - the date of which remains uncertain.

According to Lasseko‚ the South Africans were arrested in the Peacock Hotel in Dar es Salaam by Tanzanian police on Tuesday last week for a few hours before being granted bail‚ and had to report every morning to the central police station. However, on Friday, the bail was revoked the group was arrested again before the weekend.

Isla and Chesa said their meeting was held "in order to get more instructions and evidence on a case that was to be before a court".

The case concerns a challenge to government's decision to limit the provision of certain health services that it had previously provided.

Therefore, SAHRDN; • Calls upon Tanzanian authorities to drop all charges against the human rights defenders and lawyers and to immediately release them unconditionally from detention. We campaign and advocate for the right for respect of human rights and human dignity.

In February, Tanzania provoked criticism notably from the United States after announcing the closure of several health centres specialising in Aids prevention, alleging they were fronts for promoting homosexuality.

The group was making plans to fight against the country's ban on drop-in centers that serve those most at risk of contracting HIV, and another ban on the importation of water-based lubes that help prevent the virus.

"We condemn the trumped-up accusations that are being made against our activists who are working on the continent, and in Tanzania in this case, to improve the quality of life and access to healthcare for all people on the continent". "So this arrest gives credence to that argument" he said.

They added Tanzania has signed the African Charter on Human and Peoples' rights which "recognises an individual's right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts violating his fundamental rights as recognised and guaranteed by conventions, laws and customs in force".

"If there is a line that State and non-State actors should not cross, it's the one of interfering with lawyers consulting their clients", Nibogora added.

Lawyers representing those arrested are to make another bail application tomorrow, Monday 23.

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