Arrest of two online editors in Tanzania

EAST AND HORN OF AFRICA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS NETWORK

Kampala: EHAHRD-Net condemns arrest of editors in Tanzania

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) condemns the arrest of two online editors in Tanzania. Maxello Mello and Mike Mushi were reportedly detained and questioned for a full day in Dar es Salaam on the 18th of February 2008.

According to Network sources in Tanzania, the two editors host a popular discussion website called Jumbo Forums. The two editors’ lawyer Tundu Lissu is quoted to have said that the police had no official charges against them and that the order had come from the President. During a Press Conference held on 20th February 2008, the Inspector General of Police Sam Mwema stated that the editors were arrested on suspicion of criminal activity. The police is also said to have confiscated their equipment including computers, shutting down their website for five days.

The editors stated that their discussion forum had played a major role in exposing a questionable energy contract involving the former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and an American energy firm. The Prime minister resigned on 7th February 2008 after a parliamentary probe into the incident.

This is the second incident in Tanzania this year where journalists have been attacked in relation to their work. In early January 2008 two editors of Mwanahalis, a privately owned newspaper, were attacked at their offices in the Dar es Salaam suburb of Kinondoni, and seriously injured with acid and machetes by unknown assailants. (See; EHAHRDN Index: TZ 002/007/2008).

With Tanzania long being hailed for its respect for human rights, the Network expresses concern regarding the current trend of events and calls for a stop to all harassment of journalists. Freedom of expression is not a prerogative of the Tanzanian authorities and is provided for not only by Tanzania’s Constitution but also by other regional and international human rights instruments. The Tanzanian police and government authorities must desist from any future infringement on media freedom but rather guard the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right” says Hassan Shire Sheikh, Chairperson EHAHRDP/Net.

APPEAL:

  • EHAHRD-Net appeals to the Tanzanian government authorities to properly investigate the detention of the editors and ensure that justice prevails in their case.
  • We once again appeal to the government to jealously guard the reputation it has held over the years by maintaining absolute respect for media institutions.
  • EHAHRD-Net also calls upon the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the international community to work within their respective mandates and ensure that the situation of the media in Tanzania does not escalate.
  • The Network further calls upon all its members across the sub-region to write to the Tanzanian authorities calling on them to desist from any future attacks on the media.

Send appeals to:

The Prime Minister,
Prime Minister’s Office
Fax: +255 22 2112850
Tel: +255 22 2117249-56
P. O. Box 3021
DAR ES SALAAM
TANZANIA

The Vice President
Vice President’s Office
Fax: +255 22 2116990
Tel: +255 22 2116919
P. O. Box 5380
DAR ES SALAAM
TANZANIA

The Minister,
Ministry of Home Affairs
Fax: +255 22 2120486
Tel: +255 22 2119050
P. O. Box 9223
DAR ES SALAAM
TANZANIA

The Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Fax: +255 22 2113236
Tel: +255 22 2118178
P. O. Box 9050
DAR ES SALAAM
TANZANIA

The Inspector General of Police (IGP),
Ministry of Public Safety and Security,
Fax: +255 22 213655/ 2134462
Tel: +255 22 2113461
P. O. Box 9141
DAR ES SALAAM
TANZANIA

The Chairman,
Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG),
Fax: +255 22 21352 26
Tel: +255 22 2135211
Email: [email protected]
P. O. Box 2643
DAR ES SALAAM
TANZANIA

For further information, please contact:

Tumusiime Kabwende Deo, Press Officer on: +256-712-075721
Email: [email protected]

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