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Attacks on the Press in 2003 - Tanzania

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 2004
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2003 - Tanzania, February 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c566bd28.html [accessed 1 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

2003 Documented Cases – Tanzania

NOVEMBER 24, 2003
Posted: November 25, 2003

Dira
CENSORED

The government of Zanzibar, a semiautonomous island off the coast of Tanzania, has ordered the indefinite suspension of the independent weekly Dira, according to local journalists and international press reports. Dira, the island's most popular newspaper, has been highly critical of the government.

Editor Ali Nabwa told CPJ that Dira received a letter on Monday, November 24, from Zanzibar Minister of State Salim Juma Osman ordering the paper closed under a 1988 Act that empowers the government to shutter a paper it deems a "threat to national security." According to Nabwa, the letter did not say why Dira might be a threat to national security. Nabwa denied the charge and said Dira would seek a court injunction to allow it to resume publishing.

Nabwa told CPJ he believes that Dira was closed because it had criticized the government for "malpractices, corruption and abuse of power" and had recently run an article saying the ruling party was preparing to rig elections in 2005. He said the paper had also opened up a debate on Zanzibar's union with Tanzania, another sensitive subject. Zanzibar joined a union with Tanganyika in 1964, forming the state of Tanzania.

This is the not the first difficulty that Dira has faced. On October 27, the Zanzibar High Court ordered the paper to pay US$660,000 in libel damages to the son and daughter of Zanzibar President Abeid Karume over articles alleging that they used family connections to buy state-owned businesses. Nabwa told CPJ that this ruling is being appealed.

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