Honorable Guest of Honor, Distinguished Government officials, Development partners, Delegates form Embassies, Our Guests from Regional and International organizations, Members of the coalition, National Coalitions of HRDs from Uganda, UN-Representatives, Tanzania Commission for Human Rights, Representatives from the Police Force, Judiciary, Foundation For Civil Society, CSOs, Media, HRDs from upcountry, THRDC Board Members, Invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the commemoration of this remarkable day for human rights defenders. I feel very privileged and happy to see all of you here today.

Thanks a lot for your honored response. You are warmly welcome!!

Ladies and gentlemen,
The world is a dangerous place for human rights defenders! Every day around the world hundreds of Human rights defenders are exposed to violence due to their defense of the rights of others. Risking their own physical and mental integrity, they strive to bring an end to impunity of human rights violations and to promote social justice and peace.

Human rights defenders in every region of the world have continuously been subjects of intimidation, threats, killings, disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, surveillance, administrative and judicial harassment and more generally, stigmatization by state authorities and non-state actors. For the case of Tanzania in 2015 for example, the Coalition’s Protection desk received and documented 40 HRDs incidences and claims including arrest, malicious prosecutions, and torture from different parts of the country. All claims were assessed and where necessary technical support was provided.

Guest of Honor and all Distinguished Participants
April 28th each year, Human rights defenders in Tanzania commemorate the UN establishment of special mandate on Human Rights Defenders. This is your day. We are all here today to celebrate your day!

It is worth noting that, though celebrated on the 28th, the actual HRDs day is the 26th of April thus the commemoration of the UN establishment of human rights defenders special mandate.

This annual and special gathering introduced in Tanzania by the Coalition for the first time in December 2013, brings together about 120 HRDs from across the country apart from government officials, media practitioners, development partners, and other international and regional stakeholders in the human rights regime. The day provides an avenue for interactions, experience sharing and networking among HRDs and development partners as part of coalition’s advocacy activities aiming to call upon the recognition and protection of HRDs in this Country.

Apart from experience sharing, this special day provides an opportunity for HRDs across the country to exhibit their day to day activities which provide a room for sharing of materials, information and skills in the work of human rights defending.

Guest of Honor and all Distinguished Participants

The most important activity in commemorating this day, is handling of human rights defenders awards. Human rights defenders awards are handled each year to individual or human rights defender organization with an exceptional record of fighting against human rights violation regardless of the risk they face. During the 2014 defenders day two HRDs of the year 2013, namely Bruno Mwambene who has been imprisoned for four years after being charged of assault and interception in work to a Police Officer on duty and the late Eustace Nyarugenda who died fighting for women rights in Musoma were awarded. In 2015, three human rights defenders of the year 2014 namely David Kafulila(The former MP for Southern Kigoma constituency), Ms. Maanda Ngoitiko and Ms. Salma Hamoud were awared as being distinguished Whistle blower of the year, Rural Human Rights Defender of the Year and Woman Human Rights Defender of the Year respectively.

For the year 2015, the criteria based on HRDs cases received by the Protection desk at the Coalition and scrutinized to come up with distinguished HRDs/HRNGOs. We have also established a system of recognizing efforts made to promote the rights of human rights defenders at national, regional and international levels by various institutions or countries. We have those who have taken a huge role in ensuring protection mechanism for HRDs are put in place at all levels .Therefore, today we also issue certificate of recognition to those who have greatly supported and continue to support HRDs protection mechanisms at national, regional and International levels.

Guest of Honor and all Distinguished Participants
We would like to thank our sponsor, the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA), whose financial support made the launching of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Day a remarkable achievement in the field of human rights. In the same spirit we also send our appreciation to HIVOs for taking lead to support 2014 and 2015 human rights defenders day activities. We also extend our warmly gratitude to all development partners, state actors, coalition members and other stake holders for making this day happen.

I will end my short speech by quoting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressing the 70th session of the General Assembly 28th September 2015. He said;
‘I am deeply troubled by growing restrictions on media freedoms and civil society across the world. It is not a crime for journalists, human rights defenders and others to exercise their basic rights. We must preserve the space for civil society and the press to do their vital work without fear of attack and imprisonment’.

Ladies and gentlemen thanks for listening.

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