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Godfrey Luena

HRD and Human Rights Monitor
Legal and Human Rights Centre

Godfrey Luena was a land rights defender in Namwawala village in the Kilombero District of Morogoro region. He worked as a human rights monitor for the Legal and Human Rights Centre and as a monitor against the illegal appropriation of land in his community. The human rights defender had been subjected to multiple arrests, judicial harassment and intimidation due to his work defending land rights and he later continued this work in the defence of land rights as Namwawala Ward Councillor.

HRDs in Tanzania work in a relatively complex environment despite a prevailing level of stability that the country enjoys in comparison to neighbouring countries in the African Great Lakes region. Subtle forms of threats to human rights defenders are regularly recorded, particularly during electoral seasons. Occasional physical attacks against prominent human rights defenders have been noted in the past, and were never followed with meaningful investigations.


Human rights defenders working in peripheral areas far away from Dar Es Salaam, the capital city, face particular challenges ranging from constant police harassment, poor access to donor funding and low capacity to articulate a coherent advocacy strategy. Women human rights defenders operating in these areas often face backlash from society for documenting and advocating on issues such as domestic violence or early marriage. A number of women human rights defenders working in the coastal Swahili areas, including in the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar where Islam is predominant, have at times been accused of blasphemy.