MENSCHENRECHTE (HumanRights) 3000 e.V.
P. O. Box  5102
79018 Freiburg
Phone:  +49 - (0)761 48 977 100
“HUMAN RIGHTS 3000” Working Group demands Release of 8 Tanzanian Cooperants detained in Malawi
On December 22, 2016, a group of 8 Tanzanians interested in environmental issues as well as farmers from Namtumbo /Songea area in the South of Tanzania were arrested in Malawi. The members of the Group belong to Tanzanian NGOs which are cooperants of German Human Rights NGO MENSCHENRECHTE 3000 e.V., Working Group, working on environmental and Human Rights issues.  
The cooperants were travelling to get a first hand impression of uranium mining and its impacts at Kayelekera Uranium Mine, owned by Australian PALADIN, in the north of Malawi.
MENSCHENRECHTE 3000 e.V., Working Group is seriously concerned due to the previous pre-judgement by media and experiences with the breech of basic rules of law that the group of 8 may not face a fair trial following the rules of law.
The NGO is asking for immediate and unconditional release of the 8 Tanzanians, and requests that their Human and Civil rights are respected.
Malawian media had rapidly created a hype around the case, spoke – without a trace of proof – of “espionage” and discredited the detainees as “spies”.
Diplomatic efforts of Tanzania to achieve an amicable solution and a release of the eight detained persons has not be successful so far.
Russian state-owned company ROSATOM plans to build a uranium mine in the home area of the eight detained, in the south of Tanzania, the Mkuju River Uranium Project. Thus, the NGOs and their members are interested to inform themselves and their communities first-hand about uranium mining and its impacts.
Considering events up to now, activities are much less aimed at convicting the detained persons of breaking a law, but rather aimed at preventing citizens from informing themselves first-hand about uranium mining and its impacts, to undermine the right to inform themselves and – last not least – to silence any opinions critical of uranium mining.
The charges for the 8 detained have repeatedly been changed (at first „trespassing“, then „espionage“) now „carrying out a reconnaissance operation without license”.
According to Malawian mining law, a license would be needed collect information re: mineral resources.
However, when arrested, the group was accompanied by a hosting Malawian NGO, ‘Karonga Business Community’ which deals with the issue of uranium mining and Kayelekera Mine ( and was as well accompanied by a senior security officer of PALADN, the company owning the mothballed mine.
The Malawians in accompaniment of the group were instantly released.
After their arrest, the 8 Tanzanians were exposed to different kinds of harassment: Access of lawyers was gravely restricted, at times completely forbidden, communication between detainees and their lawyers was  restricted to a very short time and only under the surveillance of heavily armed police who also overheard all conversations between lawyers and detainees.
The conditions of detainment are deplorable – too little food, bad hygienic conditions, places to sleep have to be ‘bought’ from other inmates due to the overcrowding of the detainment facility – although the detained have not been condemned to any penalty. 
Basic rules of law as well as basic Human and Civil rights have been violated.
Human Rights Organisation FRONTLINE DEFENDERS has picked up the case and issued an URGENT ACTION.
It took Malawian authorities 3 weeks (from 22. December 2016 up to 2 days before the first court session on January 17, 2017), to compile a one-page ‘charge sheet’.
On January 17, 2017, a first court session in court took place at Karonga Magistrate Court.
The detainees had been denied food for 24 hours when appearing in court.
Authorities had tried to motion them to plead ”guilty” – which the detained refused.
Things erupted when the detained asked that a Tanzanian lawyer present at the court should be translating for them since they did not understand the translator provided by the court. Finally, another translator was found.
The court adjourned and the next session is scheduled for January 26, 2017.
An attempt to get the detained persons liberated on bail did not work out due to the conditions set by the court.  
The lawyers were harassed after the court session by police and other services, they were followed around, had photos taken of themselves and their vehicle. The Tanzanian lawyer was especially afraid for her personal security.
Some additonal Background Information
Mothballed Uranium Mine in Malawi – Kayelekera Uranium Mine
Australian company PALADIN owns and operated Kayelekera Uranium Mine in the north of Malawi.
Since February 2014, according to the company website, the mine has been put on “care and maintenance” (‘mothballed’) due to the low price of uranium.

In an EJOLT-Mission, environmental issues at the mine had been researched in 2014 / 2015, specifically in regard to a planned release of radioactively contaminated water which was about to overflow due to heavy rains in the area.
EJOLT Report, February 2015 (for download)

Comprehensive information on PALADIN’s Kayelekera Uranium Mine:
Ø PALADIN’s websites AND
Ø Website of WISE Uranium Project:

Planned Uranium Mine in Tanzania
The 8 detained persons originate from bordering Namtumbo / Songea area in South Tanzania.
Russian state nuclear company ROSATOM and UraniumOne plan to build via their subsidiary MANTRA, formerly a Australian company, too, a uranium mine, Mkuju River Uranium Project, which will be located within an excised part of World Heritage Site Selous Game Rerserve.
Local and national NGOs as well as international WWF and other environmental organisations are seriously concerned about or opposed to this project.
Tanzania – Malawi Border Dispute
Tanzania and Malawi have a longstanding border dispute concerning Lake Malawi area; the (verbal) dispute erupted lately again over the ownership of oil and gas resources found under Lake Malawi.
For any questions do not hesitate to contact
Gunter Wippel
Martin Kurz
23 January 2017