Tanzania will continue a controversial anti-poaching operation, President Jakaya Kikwete said Thursday, overturning a suspension following reports of rampant human rights abuses including torture and killing of suspects.
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.
"We are going to rectify such mistakes and take to task culprits, and later continue with the mission to fight poachers and protect elephants from imminent extinction," Kikwete told parliament.
The campaign, launched two months ago, was dubbed "Operation Tokomeza", or "Operation Terminate".
Parliament suspended the operation last week after lawmakers alleged a string of abuses including killings during the campaign.
But Kikwete said abandoning the operation was tantamount to letting the poachers win, and that the efforts must continue, warning that animals were being slaughtered at alarming rates.
However, he said the government was aware of widespread complaints of human right abuses, including reports of security forces beating civilians, and that they would be investigated. More....