CPJ raises mistreatment of Africa team with Tanzania's president

November 16, 2018 11:40 AM ET

President John Magufuli
1 Barack Obama Drive
11400, Kivukoni, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Dear President John Magufuli,

I am writing from the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit press freedom organization, to express my grave concern about the treatment of two members of our Africa program team who were detained by Tanzanian officials on November 7.

Angela Quintal, who leads CPJ's Africa program, and Muthoki Mumo, CPJ's sub-Saharan Africa representative, traveled to Tanzania on October 31 with the intention of staying until November 10. Their goal was to visit Tanzanian journalists and civil society organizations to better understand press freedom in your country. They were invited by the Media Council of Tanzania and, before traveling, spoke to representatives of your government who informed them that visas were not required because they were planning only private meetings. Quintal, a South African citizen, and Mumo, a Kenyan, declared their intentions at customs in Dar es Salaam, were admitted without incident, and operated openly. Unfortunately, their visit was cut short by a disturbing encounter with officials of your government.

On the evening on November 7, agents in plain clothes who identified themselves as Tanzanian immigration officials arrived at Quintal and Mumo's hotel rooms, searched their belongings, and demanded they be taken for questioning. The CPJ team was bundled into a van with the windows covered, driven to a house at an undisclosed location, and interrogated. At no point were Quintal and Mumo questioned about their visas. On the contrary, the agents claimed they had been tracking our team for days and asked repeated questions about the content of their meetings. The officers targeted Mumo with physical and psychological violence. They slapped and shoved her. They accused her of betraying black people. They threatened further violence. One agent said if it were up to him, he would kill them.

The officers also seized the CPJ team's passports and electronic devices, and forced Quintal and Mumo to share their passwords so that officers could attempt to access their information. During their detention, officers accessed Quintal's personal Twitter account and falsely sent a tweet claiming that that the CPJ team had been released.

We recognize that your government, like all governments, has the legal authority to control access to your country and to regulate visas. However, the detention of Quintal and Mumo is about something much more fundamental, namely the willingness of your government to uphold press freedom and to allow international organizations like CPJ access to carry out an independent assessment.

If Quintal and Mumo were given incorrect visa information by your government representatives, they could have been denied entry or even deported. But there is absolutely no justification for the treatment they received at the hands of Tanzanian government agents, whom we believe were not immigration officials at all, but rather members of the intelligence services.

We hope that you, like us, are dismayed by this unprofessional, abusive behavior, and that you will order an investigation and hold accountable those responsible. We are also gravely concerned that journalists with whom our team met have been subject to pressure and intimidation. We urge you to ensure that Tanzanian journalists are not targeted for their work.

Tanzania's reputation as a country that respects press freedom and international visitors and is a responsible member of the international community has been damaged by the mistreatment of CPJ's team. But this damage can be repaired if your government takes swift and appropriate action. We request your public assurance that a CPJ delegation will be allowed to visit Tanzania in the near future; that CPJ delegation members be granted the appropriate visas without delay; that they be allowed to carry out their work without interference; and that Tanzanian journalists can meet with our delegation without fear of reprisal.

Please keep us informed of your government's response. We will follow up with your diplomatic representatives.

Sincerely,

Joel Simon

Executive Director

CC

Augustine Mahiga, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanzania
Wilson Mutagaywa Kajumula Masilingi, Ambassador to the U.S., Tanzania
Modest Mero, Ambassador to the U.N., Tanzania
Thami Mseleku, High Commissioner in Tanzania, South Africa
Pindi Channa, Ambassador to Kenya, Tanzania
Monica Juma, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kenya
Dan Kazungu, High Commissioner in Tanzania, Kenya
Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa
Koleta Anita Mqulwana, Ambassador to Kenya, South Africa
António Guterres, Secretary General, United Nations
David Kaye, Special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, United Nations
Moussa Faki, Chairperson, African Union
Lawrence Mute, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, African Union
Kathleen Carroll, Board chair, CPJ

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