Introduction To LHRC
The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) is a private, autonomous, voluntary non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit sharing organization envisioning a just and equitable society. It has a mission of empowering the people of Tanzania, so as to promote, reinforce and safeguard human rights and good governance in the country. The broad objective is to create legal and human rights awareness among the public and in particular the underprivileged section of society through legal and civic education, advocacy linked with legal aid provision, research and human rights monitoring.
The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) was established in 1995 out of experiences and lessons generated from The Tanzania Legal Education Trust (TANLET) and the Faculty of Law of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). The founders of the LHRC were young lawyers who had participated in the legal Aid Committee of the Faculty of Law of the University of Dar-es-salaam and its legal Aid camps. They were somehow disillusioned by the nature of the State and its policies which were increasingly departing from the interests of majority of the people. They observed increasing human rights violations such as, land evictions of Maasai pastoralists, human rights abuses to the people of Hanang whose land had been acquired by the government and turned into big wheat farms of NAFCO. There also were alarming numbers of citizens being in conflict with the law mainly due to ignorance of the law. The human rights camps started to build awareness on Human Rights issues as clearly such issues were not known. TANLET founding members who were also public servants working as lecturers with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) thought of the risks involved in challenging the State, hence the idea of setting an independent human rights centre.
Since then LHRC has grown to be known as a leading human rights organisation, human rights watch dog, pace setter, bold and serious organisation as well as flag bearer of human rights in Tanzania. LHRC’s headquarters are based in Dar es Salaam and has a sub office in Arusha. Its operations are mainly focused in Tanzania mainland with specific interventions in Zanzibar. LHRC is a member of different national, regional, international NGOs Networks and human rights bodies. The LHRC has an observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights since 2000
Broad Objectives: For the LHRC to be able to forge its way in the realisation of its mission, it has a broad objective of creating legal and human rights awareness and empowerment among the general public and, in particular, the underprivileged sections of the society through legal and civic education, advocacy, research, follow up of human rights abuses and provision of legal aid.
Description of major products and services,
Key achievements of the LHRC so far include:
i). Major contribution in putting human rights on the national and grass-root agenda; This has been done through different means such as strategic and public interest cases, main ones being the TAKRIMA Case which challenged the law allowing money to be used in election as African hospitality, the Nyamuma case in support of villagers evicted unlawfully from their land. This case moved the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) to make its first historic recommendation against the government. It was an illustration to the public that no one is above challenge .These two examples were instrumental to the germination of powerful ideas among the public that impunity has no roots where human rights advocacy thrives
ii).Creation of a mass of human rights monitors/paralegals throughout the country. In all of the districts of Tanzania mainland there are human rights monitors who provide support to other people in their areas and report human rights abuses and help in documenting human rights situation in the country.
iii). Voice of the voiceless – wide reach from grass-root level to macro levels.
iv). Impacting youth at university level to influence future behaviors .We have facilitated university and secondary school students to form human rights clubs and they have human rights activities which help them build a human rights culture. So far there are sixteen clubs in Universities and three clubs in secondary schools
v).Systematically documenting human rights situation in the country by producing numerous human rights reports used in parliament, government offices and in academic institutions. So far we have produced 10 annual human rights reports from 2002 to 2011 which are used worldwide from feedback so far received.
vi). Influenced laws policies and practice reforms through specific campaigns. (Campaign on the Formation of the CommissionofHumanRights and Good Governance, Sexual Offences Special Provision Act 1998, Land Laws1999, campaign for a new Constitution (CCNC 1998- 2003) Zero Tolerance to FGM campaign, FGM practice lowered by 3% from (1996 -2010)
vii). 50 to 60% of LHRC recommendations on bills tabled in the parliament have influenced changes in laws and policies
viii).Employee retention (LHRC has attracted and kept the best staff thus able to provide better services to both duty bearers and right holder
Methodologies of Realising its Objectives: In order to realise its objectives, the LHRC shall engage in the following:
i).Participatory and conventional legal research methods to determine the educational needs of the target groups in the focus areas, identify the major legal and human rights issues involved and compile them and collect other information necessary to deal with the issue;
ii).Participatory legal and human rights education and training of both grassroots communities and paralegal personnel with the capacity to service the immediate needs of such non-complex legal problems;
iii).General advocacy and lobbying in support of legitimate causes of the target groups;
iv).Counseling, reconciling and litigation in respect of legal aid cases;
v).Production of publications and materials with educational legal and human rights contents;
vi).Monitor human rights violations and issue human rights situation report annually.
Target groups and Beneficiaries: By its nature, LHRC advocacy works are wider in scope to benefit the general public including the right holders, duty bearers, vulnerable groups, victims of human rights violation, law makers, civil society organizations and the general public. Through direct program interventions such as paralegal trainings, Village legal Workers Trainings and Human Rights monitors , LHRC has good link with communities at the grassroots level which ensures that its work have an impact at the national level and society level.
Membership and Governance structure: LHRC is a membership organization. Currently, there are more than 126 individual members and each year new members are registered. LHRC members have different backgrounds. Some are lawyers, politicians, retired public servants, human rights activists, religious leaders and other groups. Members are scattered throughout the country.
Annual General Meeting: All members meet once in a year at the annual General Meeting in compliance with the law. AGM roles include appointment of Board of Directors, receive annual activities and audited accounts and appoints external auditor of the organization. In 2008, LHRC conducted its 7th AGM which was held at Justice Lugakingira House in Dar es Salaam. A total of 42members attended this meeting.
Board of Directors
i).The Board is responsible to the General Assembly of Members.
ii).The Board is the decision maker in relation to policies and programmes of the LHRC and supervises implementations.
iii).The Board employs the Executive Director and confirms the members of staff of the LHRC employed by the Executive Director.
iv).The Board makes regulations for the proper management of personnel, facilities and finances of the LHRC.
v).It also approves annual plans and budgets.
vi).It ensures the provision of facilities necessary for the proper governance and direction of the LHRC.
The Current Board Members:
i). Prof. Geoffrey R.V Mmari -Chairperson
ii). Adv. Athanasia Soka - Vice Chairperson An Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania.
iii). Adv. Ringo W. Tenga – Member An Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania; Senior Lecturer of Law at the UDSM.
iv).Prof. Chris Peter Maina – Member
v).Dr. Helen Kijo-Bisimba – Secretary to the Board Executive Director of the LHRC.
vi).Mr. Pasience Mlowe – Member Staff Representative
vii).Ms. Emelyne Mboya – Member
The Management Team and Staff: Day to day operations of LHRC are carried out by the Management team and staff. The Management is headed by the Executive Director. It has a six years strategic plan, divided into three years Operational Plan divided into various Outcomes as follows:
Outcome i): Citizen’s Centred Constitution;
Outcome ii): Improved laws, policies and practices that are human rights sensitive;
Outcome iii): Informed and Empowered Public;
Outcome iv): Improved Government and Corporate compliance to regional and international human rights standards with regards to economic, social and environmental rights;
Outcome v): Effective, efficient, relevant and sustainable LHRC.
LHRC's Offices: The LHRC has its headquarters situated in Dar es Salaam, housed at the Justice Lugakingira House, Kijitonyama area. It also operates Legal Aid Clinic located at Kinondoni area in Dar es Salaam and another new branch at Mbezi.
In its Arusha office, LHRC provide services to the indigent on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays are reserved for legal officers to make follow up on issues and drafting work.
Apart from provision of legal aid, the Arusha office also makes follow up on various human rights issues, advocacy, and human rights training to LHRC’s stakeholders, paralegals and the general public.
Mobile Legal Aid Services are also provided by the LHRC.
Networks: LHRC work as well with number of networks at international, national and grass roots levels to complement and strengthen its advocacy work and multiplier results. LHRC continues to collaborate with existing networks: At international level the LHRC is a member of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) collaborating on international advocacy. At regional level LHRC coordinates the Sothern African Legal Assistance Network (SALAN) which is a network of legal aid providers organisations based in eight SADC countries. At national level LHRC work closely with Jukwaa la Katiba (Constitutional Forum) on the constitutional process, on Election monitoring TACCEO, land issues we are members of the Tanzania Land Alliance (TALA), on matters of human rights defence, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Network (THIRD). At grassroots level we collaborate with the existing paralegals and human rights monitors. These and other networks forge our implementation alliance for successful programme.
HIV/AIDS & Gender at Work Place.
Overall, there has been a consistent pattern of moving forward on gender and HIV/AIDS initiatives as cross-cutting issues within the LHRC.
The LHRC has initiated, developed and now is implementing an HIV/AIDS policy at work place and a gender policy. These policies provide direction to the Centre in building an organisation which stands for and protects both the rights of the People Living with HIV/AIDS, gender equity and equality among its members: Board members, staff, beneficiaries, organisational systems and in its programmes and their implementation.