Tanzania’s government is considering legal action to force former coloniser Germany to pay reparations for alleged atrocities committed over a century ago, the country’s defence minister said on Wednesday.
The government will seek compensation over tens of thousands of people who allegedly were starved, tortured and killed by German forces while trying to put down rebellious tribes, minister Hussein Mwinyi told lawmakers.
“We will consider steps taken by Kenya and Namibia governments in seeking reparations from Britain and German governments, respectively,” he said.
Germany ruled Tanzania, then known as Tanganyika, from 1890 to 1919.
There was no immediate response from the German embassy in Tanzania.
Germany also faces reparation claims in another former African colony, Namibia.
In January, Germany said it may make payments to Namibia for the killing of 65 000 people during its colonial occupation, an episode that is seen by some as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Talks with Namibia’s government were continuing on the issue.
In Tanzania, German forces were accused of crimes including forced starvations following the tribal revolt known as Maji Maji.
If Tanzania’s government presses for reparations, the East African country would be following the recent example of neighbouring Kenya, where a group of elderly Kenyans won compensation from the British government for acts of torture blamed on British colonial officials.
In 2013, the British government said it “sincerely regrets” the acts of torture carried out against Kenyans fighting for liberation from colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s. It also paid about $21.5m to the 5 200 Kenyans who were found to have been tortured, or about $4 100 per Kenyan victim.