Nairobi, August 30, 2019 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern about reports that detained Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera’s health is failing and called for Tanzanian authorities to release him immediately.
Today, a Dar es Salaam magistrate declined a request from Kabendera’s lawyers for prison officials to take the journalist to a local hospital, saying that he was sitting in for the trial magistrate and could not grant such a request, according to news reports and Jebra Kambole, one of Kabendera’s lawyers, who spoke to CPJ via phone. Kambole said Kabendera, a freelance investigative journalist, has had trouble breathing and walking for at least a week.
“Erick Kabendera should not be behind bars, and the reports that he is experiencing health problems in detention are deeply distressing,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “Tanzanian authorities have a duty to ensure that Kabendera receives the urgent medical care he needs, but more than that, they should put an end to their contrived legal delays and free Kabendera unconditionally.”
Kambole told CPJ that a prison doctor had seen Kabendera and prescribed him medication, but did not provide lawyers or Kabendera’s family with a diagnosis. The court today adjourned the case against Kabendera until September 12, after the government claimed that it needed more time to carry out investigations, Kambole said.
Men who claimed to be police but refused to show ID arrested Kabendera on July 29, as CPJ reported at the time. Police initially claimed they were investigating his citizenship, but changed track to charge him with economic crimes, for which he cannot qualify for bail.