Tanzanian politician who launched ‘anti-gay’ crackdown banned from entering the US

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The United States has banned Paul Makonda, politician and regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital — who launched a crackdown on homosexuality in 2018 — from visiting the country.

Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, in a statement issued on Friday, said the ban also applies to members of his family.

The US is accusing Makonda of being involved in “gross violations of human rights, which include flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons”.

“The United States remains deeply concerned over deteriorating respect for human rights and rule of law in Tanzania,” the statement read.

“This includes actions taken by the government that curtail freedom of expression, freedom of association, and right of peaceful assembly; target marginalized people and the political opposition; and jeopardize life.

“Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

“The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members. In addition to the public designation of Paul Christian Makonda, the Department is also publicly designating his spouse, Mary Felix Massenge.

“These actions against Paul Christian Makonda underscore our concern with human rights violations and abuses in Tanzania, as well as our support for accountability for those who engage in such violations and abuses. We call on the Tanzanian government to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, association, and the right of peaceful assembly.”

Makonda had stated he expected criticisms when he launched the anti-gay movement in 2015, explaining he would however forge ahead, claiming the act “angers God.”

This comes about the same time when the US included Tanzania among countries it placed immigration visa ban.

The others affected by the ban include Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar.

John Magufuli, Tanzanian president, has come under criticisms for his tough stance against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in the country since he assumed power in 2015.

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