EU recalls ambassador amid fears of crackdown on gays in Tanzania

EU recalls ambassador amid fears of crackdown on gays in Tanzania

The European Union has recalled its ambassador to Tanzania, citing “the deterioration of the human rights and rule of law situation” in the East African country where one regional official last week called for the outing and arrests of gay people.

A statement emailed to The Associated Press Monday said the EU will be conducting a broad review of its relations with Tanzania.

The statement does not cite specific issues, but there are fears of an impending crackdown against gays after Dar es Salaam Commissioner Paul Makonda urged Tanzanians to spy on suspected gays and lesbians and to report their activities.

Tanzania’s government has since issued a statement saying Makonda stated his opinion and does not speak for the administration.

The government will continue abiding by all international treaties on human rights to which it has committed, it said, adding that it protects all human rights guaranteed in the country’s constitution.

Homosexuality criminalized

Prominent rights defender Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition said Monday that Makonda’s call for a crackdown on gays violates the right to privacy and infringes on basic human rights.

Makonda told a news conference last week that he aims to eradicate homosexuality and prostitution in Tanzania. The public had already sent police the names of more than 200 suspected gay people, he said.

Homosexuality is criminalized in Tanzania and as well as many other African countries where it often seen as being imported from the West.

In 2014 neighbouring Uganda enacted anti-gay legislation that in its original version had called for the death penalty for some homosexual offences. That law was later declared unconstitutional and jettisoned amid international pressure.

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