Tanzania has suspended a controversial anti-poaching operation following reports of rampant human rights abuses including the seizure of property, torture and killing of suspects, the speaker of parliament said Saturday.
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.
The campaign, launched two months ago, was dubbed "Operation Tokomeza", or "Operation Terminate".
"It is has been necessary for government to suspend the operation indefinitely," Speaker of Parliament Anne Makinda told AFP Saturday, adding that a probe into the conduct of the campaign would be launched next week.
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki told parliament Friday the operation would be called off, adding that any member of the security forces found to be involved in acts of torture, theft of property would be punished.
Shortly after the campaign's launch Kagasheki was widely quoted in Tanzanian media as saying that "rangers are allowed to shoot to kill poachers."
On Friday, MP John Shibuda said while poachers have badly hit Tanzania's elephant population, killing the hunters was unacceptable.
"Human life is more valuable than jumbos," he told parliament.
Other lawmakers listed alleged abuses including killings during the campaign. More....