Illegal immigrants now deserve the eye of law in TanzaniaPosted: 27 September, 2013
This article comes as result of the historical background on the status of immigrants in the western part of Tanzania where the expulsion of illegal immigrants is never stable (see a BBC report). The main reason leading to the expulsion of illegal immigrates is the fact that most immigrants are not aware of Tanzanian immigration. In turn, Tanzania reacts by deporting them back to various nations along the Great Lake States.
Illegal immigration in Tanzania may be legally assessed based on two perspectives. One, those immigrants who enter Tanzania without observing due processes and are then apprehended, detained and charged with breaching immigration laws, and two, those who are found to be residing with and married to Tanzanians without observing legal procedures.
Illegal immigrants, of whatever nature, as described above, are deserving of human rights as other Tanzanians. Thus, there is a great need for lawyers and non-governmental organisations to offer information and knowledge on issues relating to immigration, labour and citizenship so as to bring awareness amongst refugees of their rights.
It is inevitable that (international) human rights violations will occur when it comes to the dealing with the subject matter, particularly the non-refoulement principle. Therefore, the expulsion of immigrants has to be performed in a jurisprudential way, otherwise it may compromise rights such as the right to privacy; the right to expression; the right to a clean safe environment; family rights; citizenship; the right to access justice; the right to own property; the right to work; freedom of movement; right to food, water, education and many rights. It is submitted that this matter facing Tanzania is not only of national concern but also of concern to the entire region and it may even require intervention from the international community.
It is legally doubtful if this term existed in Africa in the strict sense before the colonial regime. Africa has been one, save diversity in languages, but all in all most Africans would understand each other as they are Bantu people.
The concept of “illegal immigration” owes its traits from the colonial “divide and rule” attitude that served the demands of capitalism. During this era, Africans were divided geographical with demarcations, for example, between the Luo ethnic group in Kenya and Tanzania, and the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania.
During independence, the legacy of divide and rule was inherited by the African leadership which failed to review them to suit the African context for the welfare of Africans.
With the United Nations, African Union and other regional organisations such as East African Community failing to address this matter in its entirety, the time has come to resolving it because the trend has been that once these illegal immigrants are sent back by Tanzania to their respective nations, normally they come back after a short period.
There is a need for a resettlement programme as legal means aimed at stopping this phenomenon continuously fail, further given that Africa is one and there exist strong ties amongst all Africans which include, but not limited to, inter-marriages and commercial transactions during pre-colonial and colonial era, independence, after independence and in the contemporary global world.
From time immemorial Tanzania has been in the fore front of the fight for the decolonization of Africa and it is hoped that Tanzania will not refuse coming to the round table with Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda for matters relating to illegal immigrants and old refugees who no longer want to go back to their home regardless of peace and stability in their nations and who would rather live in Tanzania.
About the Author:
Njiti Lucius Batty holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB Hons) from Ruaha University College a Constituent College of St. Augustine University of Tanzania, and is expected to graduate in November 2013 with a PGD in Legal Practice at the Law School of Tanzania, Tanzania. He is a Candidate Advocate in the High Court of Tanzania and also a Tutorial Assistant and Coordinator of the University of Dodoma Law Society & Moot Court at the University of Dodoma, Tanzania. His research interests include international human rights and international humanitarian law.