The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) was incepted in 2010 at the time when incidents of human rights violations were relatively high in Tanzania. During this time, there were already human rights organizations (HRO), most of which are current members of THRDC. There were also HROs’ networks operated at national, regional and district levels. Despite their efforts and notable results towards human rights protection and promotion, still, none of these organizations had a direct intervention on human rights defenders (HRDs).
As the threats to HRDs were coming more open and real, a need for HRO which will specifically address the rights of HRDs emerged. Around fourteen (14) HROs decided to form a loose network in 2010. The aim of the network was to have a common voice on HRDs’ issues and matters. Two years later (2012) the network transformed itself into THRDC as a registered organization under the laws of Tanzania. The regislation gives this Coalition a mandate and justification to operate as a legal entity.
The registration of THRDC marked a beginning of HRDs’ rights’ struggles and protection in Tanzania.Unlike other HROs including networks, the THRDC is unique in the sense that, its core function is more focused and very specific on HRDs’ protection and promotion of their rights.
The uniqueness of this Coalition and high demand of HRDs’ protection have turned THRDC as a centre of attraction. It is membership base has grown from only 14 members in 2012 to approximately 170 members in Tanzania mainland and approximately 30 members in Zanzibar mainland as of October 2021. Its membership is open to human rights based organizations of both sides of the United Republic of Tanzania (URT), i.e mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The findings of the just concluded final evaluation of the 2013-2017 SP revealed that, at least 70% of the current members of THRDC sought to be members of this Coalition because they felt that they were not ‘protected’ in their work.