Freedom of the Press 2009 - Tanzania
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Tanzania, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b2741f421.html [accessed 11 July 2014]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 16 (of 30)
Political Environment: 19 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 15 (of 30)
Total Score: 50 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
The media environment in Tanzania suffered some setbacks in 2008 with the arbitrary arrest of several journalists and increased attacks on the media.
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, several other laws limit the ability of the media to function effectively, and there are no explicit provisions for freedom of the press. Authorities are empowered to register and ban newspapers under the Newspaper Registration Act "in the interest of peace and good order," while the Broadcasting Services Act provides for state regulation of electronic media and the National Security Act allows the government to control the dissemination of information to the public. In addition, criminal penalties imposed by libel legislation continue to intimidate journalists. There is no freedom of information law in place, though a draft bill was introduced in February 2007.
The registration of newspapers remained difficult, and applications were approved or denied at the discretion of the registrar of newspapers at the Ministry of Information.
MwanaHalisi, a private Swahili weekly, was targeted several times during the year for its coverage of official corruption.Its editor and deputy editor suffered an acid attack in January by unidentified assailants. In July, the police raided the newspaper, questioned the editors, and seized a computer based on a complaint by the National Bank of Commerce that the paper had illegally published the banking data of some of its clients. The government finally shut down MwanaHalisi in October for what it claimed was a pattern of publishing seditious material. The paper remained closed at year's end.
The situation in semiautonomous Zanzibar remains more restrictive than in the rest of the country. Journalists in Zanzibar must be licensed and obtain a permit before covering police activities. The government controls all content of radio and television broadcasts whether the outlet is privately or publicly owned, although residents can receive private broadcasts from the mainland, and opposition politicians did have access to state media outlets. One of the two newspapers is privately owned and the other is government owned. Anyone publishing information accusing a Zanzibar lawmaker of involvement in illegal activities is subject to a fine of at least 250,000 Tanzanian shillings (US$280) or three years' imprisonment. There were reports of journalists being arrested arbitrarily under the slander laws.
There are numerous media outlets throughout Tanzania, including 47 FM radio stations, 537 registered newspapers, and a dozen television stations. Only four radio stations have a national reach – state-run Radio Tanzania and privately owned Radio One, Radio Free Africa, and Radio Uhuru – and all are viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party.
The government reportedly continues to withhold advertising from critical newspapers and those that favor the opposition. Private firms that are keen to remain on good terms with the government allegedly follow suit, making it difficult for critical media outlets to remain financially viable.
Although there were no explicit government restrictions on the internet, there were reports that officials monitored internet content and activity. In February, Maxence Mello and Mike Mushi, editors of Jambo Forums, a popular online discussion site, were arrested and detained overnight for the "dissemination of wrong information" about a government corruption scandal. The website was closed for five days. Only 1 percent of the population accessed the internet in 2008, though a number of new internet cafes and internet service providers opened during the year.