An updated human rights complaint system for Tanzania

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Over the past three years, IPIS has been collaborating with Tanzania’s Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) to create a new system that allows the public to lodge human rights grievances with CHRAGG. This work is part of the EU-funded project “Improving monitoring, research and dialogue on Business and Human Rights in Tanzania”.

As Tanzania’s National Human Rights Institution, CHRAGG has the constitutional mandate to independently promote and protect human rights in the country and to monitor, investigate and follow-up on human rights issues. As part of its mandate, CHRAGG has been operating a human rights complaint handling system since 2014. However, the available system proved not up to the task of offering Tanzania’s citizens a dependable way of reporting and seeking justice for human rights violations.

The now updated Human Rights Complaints Management Information System (CMIS) is more user-friendly both for citizens to report human rights complaints and for CHRAGG to follow-up on reported incidences with investigation and recommendations. In this way, the new CMIS offers a real contribution to efforts to improve protection of human rights of Tanzania’s citizens, including rights violated by business activities.

The new system brings a welcome update in three key areas:

  • Improved interaction with the public – complaints can now be submitted and tracked via interactive SMS (Picture 1), CHRAGG’s website (Picture 2) and a mobile application (under development). Complaints can also still be submitted in writing or orally at one of CHRAGG’s offices. In this way, reporting on a human rights violation should become more accessible to more citizens, including those living in remote areas not near a CHRAGG office. The new public interfaces also allow key information to be submitted directly when the complaint is filed and for the public to track the status of a complaint that was filed, via its case file number.
  • Improved information management system for CHRAGG – the public interfaces are now integrated in a new digital information management system and database that are accessible to staff at all CHRAGG’s offices and which allow more systematic documentation and efficient follow-up of reported grievances. It also allows CHRAGG to have an up-to-date overview and statistics on, e.g., the types of complaints filed or geographical and thematic hotspots. This information is crucial for CHRAGG to orientate its activities (priority investigations, policy advice, awareness raising, …) towards regions or themes that require extra attention
  • Awareness raising on human rights and accessing remediation for harm – the new CMIS was launched in January 2021 and was accompanied by several regional information campaigns to spread awareness on the existence of a national system for human rights complaint handling, on how to access and navigate the system and on CHRAGG’s mandate to investigate claims of rights violations and to recommend avenues for remediation in cases of harm. Awareness is key to the success of the system and more sensibilization is still very much needed to ensure that the broad public in Tanzania is aware of its rights and how to realise those rights.

Raising awareness

As part of the joint project with IPIS, CHRAGG conducted regional awareness and information campaigns in Arusha, Mwanza, Dar es salaam, Lindi, Mtwara, North and South Unguja and North and South Pemba. Public community meetings were held in areas with significant corporate investment. Company-level meetings were organized for workers and management staff of selected industries and companies in these areas. Besides this, a number of featured articles in national-level, printed media such as Habari Leo and Daily News were published, while Ndago TV in Arusha and ITV in Mwanza aired TV programmes dedicated to the new CMIS.

More details on CHRAGG’s work to raise awareness can be found here.

For more information on CHRAGG’s CMIS, you can contact CHRAGG or IPIS.

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This product is part of the Improving monitoring, research and dialogue on Business & Human Rights in Tanzania’ project implemented by CHRAGG, BHRT and IPIS, with the financial support of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.