from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – TANZANIAN President, John Magufuli, has been petitioned to intervene and secure the release of a freelance journalist and ensure investigations into the disappearance of another.
The petition follows the recent arrest of Erick Kabendera and the disappearance of Azory Gwanda.
Kabendera was taken forcefully from his home on July 29 and denied access to a lawyer. Police initially claimed they were investigating Kabendera’s citizenship. Days after his arrest charged him with economic crimes, for which he cannot qualify for bail.
Gwanda also worked as a freelance journalist, based in the Coast region.
He went missing in November 2017, in the company of unidentified men believed to be security personnel.
Prior to that, Gwanda chronicled mysterious killings and abductions, including of ruling party officials and police officers.
Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has written a letter to Magufuli pleading for his intervention.
“These cases strike fear in the local media community and have the potential to exacerbate a culture of self-censorship, as journalists retreat from critical reporting for fear of facing a similar fate,” he wrote.
Simon stated these cases were emblematic of the rapid deterioration of press freedom in Tanzania.
The repression includes the suspension of media outlets, restrictive regulation and legal harassment of journalists.
Critics accuse Magufuli, who has been in power since 2015, of authorising the crackdown.
– CAJ News