Tanzania's Foreign Affairs ministry has hit out at the United Nations Human Rights Office for criticising the country’s human rights record as it heads to the October general election.
According to the ministry's Permanent Secretary Col Wilbert Ibuge, the statement issued by the Geneva-based UN agency on March 17, was biased, with unsubstantiated allegations, and an attempt to both malign Tanzania's international reputation and intrude on its sovereignty.
The UN recently slammed the sentencing of several opposition leaders on charges including sedition and unlawful assembly, calling it "further troubling evidence" of a crackdown on dissent and stifling of public freedoms in the country.
It accused the government of using the country's criminal justice system to target its critics, and called on Tanzania to “immediately lift” a four-year ban on political rallies ahead of the October election.
"The democratic and civic space has shrunk to almost nothing in Tanzania," the agency said.
Col Ibuge said that before going public, the agency should have first raised its concerns with the government for clarification "which would have been duly and graciously provided."
"The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should desist from issuing one-sided news releases as this raises concerns over its politicisation, subjectivity and double standards," Col Ibuge said in a statement.
He dismissed claims of a ban on political activities in Tanzania as “blatant disinformation.”
“Political parties have been holding meetings and conducting party activities in their legitimate areas of representation and according to the law,” he said.
This article was originally published on The East African.