On March 6, 2018, unidentified individuals allegedly abducted Abdul Nondo, a student at the University of Dar Es Salaam and Chairperson of Tanzania Students’ Networking Programme (TSNP), in apparent retaliation for his peaceful human rights activism.
Prior to the alleged abduction, Mr. Nondo, a prominent student activist in Tanzania, had been particularly critical of state authorities over the extrajudicial killing of another student at a February 2018 demonstration. According to Mr. Nondo, on March 6, his captors took him to a secluded location in Iringa, over 500 kilometers from Dar Es Salaam, and released him. The day after his abduction, he went to a police station in Iringa where he called his family, however, police barred him from leaving and brought him to the Director of Criminal Investigations, back in Dar Es Salaam, where he was detained. During his detention, several other members of TNSP were reportedly targeted by authorities for questioning and, in at least one case, prosecution.
On March 21, an Iringa court charged Mr. Nondo with “publication of false information” and “giving false information to the person employed in the public service,” based on allegations that he lied about his abduction to the police and friends who he had contacted following his release.
On March 26, authorities released Mr. Nondo on bail. He is scheduled to attend a court hearing on April 14.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the abduction of a student in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association — conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Tanzania is a party. Scholars at Risk is likewise concerned about the detention and prosecution of the student by authorities in response to such an abduction. State authorities have a responsibility to protect the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association, including, where appropriate, investigating and prosecuting attacks on human rights defenders, and in any event, refraining from attacks on the human rights defenders themselves.