Tanzania Defends Amnesty’s Claims On Maasai Evictions

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Tanzania’s justice minister, Damas Ndumbaro has defended the government over accusations of forcefully relocating the Maasai people from their ancestral land near the Serengeti National Park.

Mr. Ndumbaro described as “misleading” a report by Amnesty International that accused security forces of repeatedly using excessive force to evict the Maasai in the northern Loliondo region.

The rights group said police carried out arbitrary arrests and shot at people.

Meanwhile, the minister said that the government had only sought to demarcate a 4,000 sq km area that was a game-controlled area, established by the German colonial government.

He said local people had invaded the area after independence in 1961 to an extent that it could no longer be used for conservation, and the government had donated about two-thirds of the land to the communities there.

The minister said the police had acted calmly despite locals confronting them with crude weapons.

“Our police behaved very professionally in last year’s’ demarcation exercise. They did not react because they respect human rights,” he said, adding that a policeman was killed and the accused were being tried in court in accordance with the rule of law.

 

BBC/Chrstopher Ojlere

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