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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  

United Republic of Tanzania

Reports of abuse and torture of suspects in police custody are common, and police have been accused of extrajudicial killings and other violence over the past three years.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Tanzania

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Tanzania.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tanzania

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 10 August 2021]


There were reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities. There were numerous cases of police using “snatch and grab” tactics where authorities arrested individuals who temporarily disappeared and then reappeared in police stations only after social media pressure. The government made no efforts to investigate or punish such acts.


There were reports that police officers, prison guards, and soldiers abused, threatened, or otherwise mistreated civilians, suspected criminals, and prisoners. These abuses often involved beatings.

On September 25, Dar es Salaam police arrested three senior officials from the opposition political party ACT-Wazalendo at their election headquarters. An ACT-Wazalendo representative reported that one of the officials was physically mistreated while in custody.

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.

On April 18, police raided a number of bars in Dar es Salaam, including one called “The Great,” where police caned patrons, staff, and managers for ignoring Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda’s order against visiting bars during the height of COVID-19 prevention measures. Video from Arusha taken in April showed an unidentified Maasai man, acting in his capacity as a security guard, caning passersby on the street for not maintaining social distancing guidelines.


Prisons and prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening due to food shortages, gross overcrowding, physical abuse, and inadequate sanitary conditions.


Pretrial Detention: Arrests often preceded investigations, and accused persons frequently remained in pretrial detention–known as “remand”–for years before going to trial, usually with no credit for pretrial confinement at the time of sentencing. There is no trial clock or statute of limitations. Prosecutors obtained continuances based on a general statement that the investigation was not complete. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, approximately 50 percent of the prison population consisted of pretrial detainees. Detainees generally waited three to four years for trial due to a lack of judges, an inadequate judicial budget, and the lengthy time for police investigations.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Reports of abuse and torture of suspects in police custody are common, and police have been accused of extrajudicial killings and other violence over the past three years. Several high-profile abductions and disappearances from 2018 remained unresolved in 2019.

Tanzania is Kidnapping and Torturing LGBTQ People

Matt Baume,, 12 November 2018

[accessed 22 November 2018]

That followed a raid last year in which 12 people were seized at a hotel in Dar es Salaam, accused of promoting same-sex relationships.

Those who have been held on similar charges in the past reported police brutality that included beating, sexual assault, and being forced to crawl through sewage.

In Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region off the coast of Tanzania, 10 people were kidnapped by security forces last week, accused of homosexuality, and subjected to physical torture. Police chief Suleiman Hassan described forcible anal abuse by authorities, supposedly to obtain evidence of homosexuality.

Alleged Brutality and Torture during Tanzania’s Anti-Poaching Operation

Juliet Onyango, Zegabi East Africa News, 10 January 2014

[accessed 12 Jan 2014]

According to Lembeli, victims comprised local leaders who were humiliated in the presence of their constituents. Lembeli cited the instance of Peter Samwel, a councilor in Meatu district. The councilor alleged that security forces tied his legs and arms with a rope and hung him upside down for a number of hours.

In another case, a woman from Bariadi district claimed that three soldiers raped her at gunpoint.  On the same note, a 38-year old farmer residing in Ulanga district has also made public accusations against security forces. He alleges assault, as well as severe emotional and physical torture.

The farmer alleged that he woke up and found his home surrounded by anti-poaching officers who accused him of illicit hunting. During an interview with Inter Press Service, he claimed that the officers stripped him, poured salt on him, and whipped him in the presence of his 11-year old son.

Tanzania: Police Abuse, Torture, Impede HIV Services

Human Rights Watch, Dar es Salaam, 18 June 2013

[accessed 11 Feb 2014]

The 98-page report, “‘Treat Us Like Human Beings:’ Discrimination against Sex Workers, Sexual and Gender Minorities, and People Who Use Drugs in Tanzania,”documents abuses including torture, rape, assault, arbitrary arrest, and extortion.

Torture claims against Ukonga prison denied

Dickson Ng`hily, IPP Media, 29 March 2013

[accessed 30 March 2013]

The negative perception of the country’s prisons is cited as a cause for the unfolding accusations of torture at the Ukonga maximum security prison in Dar es Salaam.

One of the top prison officers at Ukonga prison who asked not to be named told our reporter in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that his prison is seen as inhuman and wretched place.

“…the public has to know that the Ukonga prison is not a place for inmates’ torture and other appalling conditions leading to their death. However inmates lose all of their freedom and have to follow very strict rules of conduct and order,” the source admitted.

He added: “When the inmates arrive here, they are taken for medical checkups so as to establish how fit they are and thus determine the kind of duties they are to be assigned…we provide them with food, mattresses and sheets as provide by the Prisons Act of 1967.”

“…after all, we are being regularly monitored by human rights teams which normally come and stay with the inmates even for two days. When they are in, prison warders do not interfere. We leave them to talk with the prisoners freely,” clarified the source.

He added: “We therefore, have a good reputation, in fact we don’t want to discolour our image … I remember a group of seven international human right activists who visited here … they were amazed to see the environment in which the inmates live.”

Early this month The Guardian reported allegations of extreme torture against inmates at the Ukonga Prison which were however vehemently denied by the authorities.”

Tanzania: Harsh prison conditions/ Torture or Ill treatment / Death penalty

Amnesty International AI, 13 January 2005, Index number: AFR 56/001/2005

[accessed 15 January 2019]

Download the Report at

[accessed 15 January 2019]

On 3 January, at least 15 prisoners sentenced to death in the main Ukonga maximum security prison in the capital, Dar es Salaam, started a hunger strike protesting about their harsh prison conditions. They are reportedly protesting at a poor prison diet and being severely beaten whilst being held in overcrowded prison cells. Amnesty International is concerned for their safety.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 15 January 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 14 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there continued to be reports that police officers tortured, threatened, and otherwise mistreated suspected criminals and prisoners during the year. Beatings and floggings were the methods most commonly used. According to press reports, more police were prosecuted during the year for abusing prisoners than in the previous year.

In September the government formed a commission to investigate torture allegations involving senior prison officers in the Geita district of Mwanza region. The officers were accused of torturing, beating, and sodomizing two members of sungusungu, a traditional militia. No additional information was available at year's end.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 4   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 14 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Tanzania’s judiciary has displayed signs of autonomy after decades of subservience to the one-party CCM regime, but it remains subject to considerable political influence. Arrest and pretrial detention rules are often ignored. Prison conditions are harsh, and police abuse is said to be common. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, at the end of 2006, there were 44,000 inmates in the country’s prisons, although government sources have indicated that the facilities’ collective capacity is only 23,000. Questions have been raised regarding the safety and health of prisoners, including minors and women, who have been subjected to sexual harassment and human rights abuses.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Tanzania ",, [accessed <date>]