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Arusha, 10 may 2007 (FH) – The American organization for the defence of human rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW), called on Tanzanian authorities to “immediately suspend” their program deporting persons of Rwandan and Burudi origin.
“Tanzania must immediately postpone its program deporting persons of Rwandan and Burundi origin from Tanzania, and put an end to the violent acts perpetrated by security forces against these people,” declared the New York based organization in a statement from Bujumbura.
Since May 2006, Tanzania has sent some 15,000 people back to Rwanda and has sent more than one thousand others to Burundi, Human Rights Watch reports.
The Tanzanian government asserts that the operation aims to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country.  According to those in charge of this program, the operation is aiming for a total of 60,000 people of Rwandan origin and an as yet undecided number of Burundis.
However, asserts HRW, Tanzanian authorities have also deported people who have been naturalized and people who are registered as refugees and live in refugee camps, as well as people who appear able to validly claim asylum but live outside of the refugee camps.”
Furthermore, “according to testimonies gathered by Human Rights Watch, soldiers, police officers and militia beat and threatened people who they wanted to deport, and they pillaged and destroyed their belongings.”  “In certain places, these raids resulted in the separation of parents from their children; even nursing babies are being separated from their mothers”, denounced the organisation.
HRW urges the president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete “to, in the case of all persons who are susceptible to being deported, conduct a close examination with respect to the law and equitable procedures in conjunction with the personnel of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).”
“These deportations and their brutality place already vulnerable people in danger,” explains Alison Des Forges, principal advisor for the African Division of Human Rights Watch.
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