HelpAge International has lauded the move by the government to launch its national strategy to ending the killings of older people in the country.
Speaking ahead of the launch in Dodoma, Smart Daniel, Country Director, HelpAge International said the launch is a culmination of massive collaborative work by the government and stakeholders concerned with the unacceptable prevailing circumstances the older people face in the country.
“The bad culture and traditions that perpetuate the killings of older people aggravates psychological torture on the older people,” said Smart adding that the move by the government is a clear demonstration of the need by the state to safeguard the rights and protection of older people.
Older people in Tanzania have experienced violence and killings in communities due to belief associated with witchcraft traditions.
A number of state and non-state agencies currently estimate that annually, over 400 older people are killed on witchcraft allegations.
Smart said HelpAge International has over the years worked closely with the government to develop a comprehensive legal and policy framework to end not just the killings but all other forms of systemic exclusionary and discriminatory practices against older people.
According to Joseph Mbasha Rights Programme Manager, HelpAge has collaborated with the government on creating public awareness on ageing, exposed challenges facing older people in various sector including killings related to witchcraft beliefs. In the process of developing the strategy HelpAge has closely worked with the government through the ministry of Health Community development elderly and children in organizing consultation workshops and validation workshops with stakeholders.
On its part, the government has used various policy and legal interventions to combat these killings including ratifying a number of international and regional protocols that safeguard and guarantee the rights of older people.
These have included interventions on the Rights and Security of the older people through the formation of police task force, prosecution and courts.
The government has deployed its machinery to deal with suspected perpetrators of the violence against older people by establishing special operations in areas with reported high incidences of violence against older people and killings on the allegations of witchcraft. This has led to speedy investigations and prosecutions of offenders.
The overall goal of the strategy is to attain zero older people killing by 2022 and intends to achieve this through massive awareness creation programmes as well as education in all public forums to counter.
It commits government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and private organisations to intervene in policy, service delivery, legislations and regulations to ensure communities become aware against witchcraft beliefs, improved security and safe guard the right to life of older people.
About HelpAge International
HelpAge International is a global network of organisations promoting the right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. We have a strong, value-based position which puts the experience of older women and men at the centre of our work.
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Communications Officer, HelpAge International