Tanzania: Human rights defender Tito Magoti to be presented for the eleventh time before the Court in an unfair trial

Press release

Paris-Geneva, May 12, 2020 – The case of Tito Magoti, a Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) officer who is held in pretrial detention since his arrest in late 2019, will be heard by the Court for the eleventh time this week. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) condemns his arbitrary detention which only aims at preventing him from exercising his legitimate work in defence of human rights and call for his immediate release.

On May 13, 2020, Mr. Tito Magoti will appear in front of the Resident Magistrate’s Court of Dar es Salaam for the eleventh time since his arrest on December 20, 2019. The LHRC Mass Education Officer is being prosecuted on trumped-up economic charges of "leading organised crime", "possession of a computer program designed for the purpose of committing an offence" and "money laundering", although at the time of his arrest he was reportedly questioned about his online activism and his relationship with several leading online activists and opposition voices.

The offences Mr. Magoti is charged with are unbailable and he therefore cannot be released from Segerea Remand Prison, where he has been held in pretrial detention since his arrest, until the outcome of his trial. During the multiple hearings, the Court repeatedly ordered the closure of the investigation, but the Prosecutor continued to claim that further investigation was needed.

“After the withdrawal, by the Tanzanian authorities, of the right of individuals and NGOs to bring cases before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights at the end of 2019, the judicial harassment against Mr. Magoti is yet more evidence of the Tanzanian authorities’ hostility towards human rights and those who defend them” said FIDH President Alice Mogwe.

In addition to the arbitrary nature of his detention and the judicial harassment to which he is subjected, Mr. Magoti is being held under very poor conditions. Fears for his health are high in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic, in particular because of the overcrowding and the food and water restrictions in the prison. It is important to recall that it is the responsibility of the Tanzanian authorities to ensure the safety and health of those detained. To this end and in this context of crisis, they should decongest the prisons by releasing all arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, including Mr. Magoti.

“We hope Wednesday’s hearing will be the last one, and we urge Tanzanian authorities to release Mr. Tito Magoti, to drop all charges against him, and ensure that all judicial proceedings are carried out in full compliance with his right to a fair trial as protected under international law” said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

For further information, please contact:
· FIDH: Mr. Samuel Hanryon (English, French), +33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris)
· OMCT: Ms. Iolanda Jaquemet (English, French), +41 79 539 41 06 (Geneva)

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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