Statement from the CBA President John Stefaniuk on the silencing of lawyers in Tanzania

  • September 07, 2023

The Canadian Bar Association denounces the recent harassment and detention of lawyers in Tanzania and urges respect for freedom of expression, the right to protest and the right to counsel.

According to reports, 22 people, including several lawyers, have been detained since June 2023 for criticizing a government decision to have a foreign logistics company manage Tanzania’s ports.

Members of the legal profession must be able to carry out their professional function without harassment and fear of arrest. Freedom of expression and the right to counsel are fundamental components of the rule of law.  

We are concerned that the actions in Tanzania violate core principles of the legal profession including those set out in the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Those principles state that lawyers, like other citizens, are entitled to freedom of expression and have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, administration of justice and the protection of human rights. The principles also underline the importance of cooperation between lawyers and governments to ensure that everyone has access to legal services and that lawyers are able, without improper interference, to assist their clients.

The CBA continues to stand with the international community, including the Tanganyika Law Society, in condemning the situation in Tanzania.