Tanzania halts anti-poaching drive after abuse claims
by Staff Writers
Dar Es Salaam (AFP) Nov 02, 2013
Tanzania has suspended a controversial anti-poaching operation following reports of rampant human rights abuses including the seizure of property, torture and killing of suspects, the speaker of parliament said Saturday.
Police and wildlife officers have cracked down on suspected poachers amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation, operating under what was reported to be a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.
The campaign, launched two months ago, was dubbed “Operation Tokomeza”, or “Operation Terminate”.
“It is has been necessary for government to suspend the operation indefinitely,” Speaker of Parliament Anne Makinda told AFP Saturday, adding that a probe into the conduct of the campaign would be launched next week.
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki told parliament Friday the operation would be called off, adding that any member of the security forces found to be involved in acts of torture, theft of property would be punished.
Shortly after the campaign’s launch Kagasheki was widely quoted in Tanzanian media as saying that “rangers are allowed to shoot to kill poachers.”
On Friday, MP John Shibuda said while poachers have badly hit Tanzania’s elephant population, killing the hunters was unacceptable.
“Human life is more valuable than jumbos,” he told parliament.
Execute elephant poachers on the spot, Tanzanian minister urges
Khamis Kagasheki says radical shoot-to-kill policy would curb the slaughter of elephants for illicit ivory trade
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 8 October 2013 11.17 EDT
A government minister in Tanzania has called for a “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers in a radical measure to curb the mass slaughter of elephants.
Khamis Kagasheki’s proposal for perpetrators of the illicit ivory trade to be executed “on the spot” divided opinion, with some conservationists backing it as a necessary deterrent but others warning that it would lead to an escalation of violence.
There are already signs of an increasing militarisation of Africa’s wildlife parks with more than 1,000 rangers having been killed while protecting animals over the past decade, according to the Thin Green Line Foundation. Tanzania is said to have lost half its elephants in the past three years.
“Poachers must be harshly punished because they are merciless people who wantonly kill our wildlife and sometimes wardens,” said Kagasheki at the end of an International March for Elephants, which took place in 15 countries to raise awareness of the poaching scourge. “The only way to solve this problem is to execute the killers on the spot.”