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Tanzania


Invisible plight of the Tanzanian press

Tanzania
CPJ Special Report | Itika Mwangosi at the grave of her husband, Daudi. (Gustav Chahe)

The printed word is thriving in parts of Africa, but advertisers' clout means they can often quietly control what is published. By Tom Rhodes

Kenyans read election coverage in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, the capital, on March 9, 2013. One reason that advertising revenue trumps circulation for East Africa's newspapers is that readers often share papers to save money. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
Kenyans read election coverage in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, the capital, on March 9, 2013. One reason that advertising revenue trumps circulation for East Africa's newspapers is that readers often share papers to save money. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

As public dissent grew in the lead-up to the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, attacks and threats against journalists rose. Police were believed to be the perpetrators in nearly a third of the cases. Unidentified assailants brutally attacked a veteran journalist in March, but authorities had not identified the motive, attackers, or mastermind in late year. The increase in threats and attacks occurred alongside a backdrop of anti-press legislation. CPJ identified 17 repressive media-related statutes, including a ban on publications the government considers seditious. For five years, Tanzanian authorities have pledged to address the legislation, but no changes had taken place in late year. CPJ found that the laws were used to induce self-censorship in the independent press. One paper, the critical weekly MwanaHalisi, was silenced indefinitely under the 1976 Newspaper Act.

Nairobi, September 30, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a decision by Tanzanian authorities to suspend two leading private Swahili dailies on accusations of sedition. The government issued a statement on Friday suspending Mwananchi and MTanzania for 14 and 90 days respectively.

The Tanzanian government enjoys good international publicity for transparency, but news of public discontent is not being heard. A spike in anti-press attacks is sowing fear and self-censorship among journalists. A CPJ special report by Tom Rhodes

Police fired a tear canister during a September 2012 altercation outside Iringa, killing  journalist Daudi Mwangosi. (Wavuti)

The African Union's special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, has launched an auspicious initiative in East Africa to counter criminal defamation and sedition laws. Since independence, authorities and business interests in the East and Horn region have used criminal laws on sedition, libel, and insult--often relics of former, colonial administrations--to silence their critics in the press. "Criminal defamation laws are nearly always used to punish legitimate criticism of powerful people, rather than protect the right to a reputation," Tlakula said in a statement.

Dear President Obama: Ahead of your first trip to East Africa, we would like to bring to your attention the deteriorating state of press freedom in Tanzania. In your meetings with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, we ask that you discuss the critical importance of press freedom to economic development and democracy.

(Pan African Parliament)

The Pan African Parliament's (PAP) launch of a media freedom campaign through a "Dialogue on Media Freedom in Africa" in mid-May marks an important and welcome starting point. For too long, media freedom has been divorced from the debate around development and democratization when it has an integral role to play in promoting transparency, underpinning good governance, and enabling citizens to make informed decisions.

Absalom Kibanda was beaten by three unidentified men on Tuesday. (Absalom Kibanda)

Nairobi, March 7, 2013--Authorities in Tanzania must immediately investigate a vicious attack on a veteran journalist in Dar es Salaam, the capital, on Tuesday night, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

A journalist was killed in the line of duty in September, the first Tanzanian work-related fatality documented by CPJ in the 20 years it has kept detailed records. Police attacked veteran TV reporter Daudi Mwangosi, who was shot point-blank with a tear-gas canister and died at the scene, witnesses said. Mwangosi, of the private Channel 10 station, had confronted officers over the arrest of another journalist during an opposition rally, news reports said. The authorities arrested a junior officer in connection with the killing, but they didn’t pursue at least six other officers thought to be associated with the death, according to a report released by the independent Media Council of Tanzania. The government can use 17 repressive, media-related statutes to crack down on critical coverage. Under the Newspaper Act of 1976, the information ministry indefinitely banned the Swahili-language weekly MwanaHalisi in July on vague charges of sedition and false reporting in unspecified articles. The paper’s chief editor, Jabir Idrissa, said he suspected the publication was targeted for its coverage of a physicians’ strike in the country and the abduction and torture of Steven Ulimboka, a doctor leading the strikers. Reports from MwanaHalisi had suggested the authorities were involved in the attack on Ulimboka, but the government denied the allegations, news reports said.

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Killed in Tanzania

1 journalist killed since 1992

Attacks on the Press 2012

1 Journalist killed by police, the first work-related fatality CPJ recorded here.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Africa

Program Coordinator:
Sue Valentine

Advocacy Coordinator:
Mohamed Keita

East Africa Consultant:
Tom Rhodes

West Africa Consultant:
Peter Nkanga

svalentine@cpj.org
mkeita@cpj.org
trhodes@cpj.org
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