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Attacks on the Press in 2001 - Tanzania

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 2002
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2001 - Tanzania, February 2002, available at: [accessed 19 November 2017]
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.

In June, the government of President Benjamin William Mkapa published a review of its media policy, outlining proposed changes to existing media laws. The document expressed the government's commitment to press freedom and to providing quality education and training for journalists. But it applied only to the mainland and excluded the island of Zanzibar.

Under Tanzania's two-tier constitutional structure, adopted after mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to create the United Republic of Tanzania, the mainland and Zanzibar generally have separate media policies. Zanzibar's media policy is more restrictive than that of the mainland.

In particular, the island's Registration of News Agents, Newspapers and Books Act provides for mandatory licensing of journalists and state monitoring of the private press. Under this law, unlicensed journalists may not collect or disseminate information on or about the island. In addition, licensed journalists must "promote national policies ... and maintain harmony in the society."

Mainland Tanzania boasts a number of independent newspapers, published in English and Kiswahili. They have been criticized for their timidity in tackling issues such as corruption and government mismanagement. The mainland also has 20 private radio stations, although the Broadcasting Services Act restricts their broadcasting range to only 25 percent of the country. Most private stations are concentrated on urban areas. Only the state-owned Radio Tanzania and Televisheni ya Taifa are licensed to cover the entire country.

Unlike the mainland, Zanzibar has no private newspapers or broadcasters. Although the Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission was established in 1997 to regulate private broadcast outlets, none has been licensed so far.

In 2001, as in previous years, the mainland's media laws were used to muzzle press coverage of sensitive issues. The Newspaper Registration Act of 1976, which grants authorities powers to register or ban newspapers, was used in July to shut down nine publications and suspend three others for reports and photographs deemed "contrary to national ethics and [which] encourage promiscuous behavior." The move came a month after President Mkapa announced a crackdown on pornography in print and online.

Meanwhile, the Tanzanian town of Arusha continued to host the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Three Rwandan media figures (Hassan Ngeze, Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza) are facing genocide-related charges for allegedly helping to incite the 1994 slaughter of more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate ethnic Hutus by Hutu extremists in Rwanda.

July 24
Chachandu CENSORED
Mama Huruma CENSORED
Uroda kwa Foleni CENSORED
Simulizi Kutoka Chumbani CENSORED
Penzi Kikohozi CENSORED

Tanzanian officials banned nine Swahili-language weeklies and suspended three tabloids for allegedly thwarting the government's HIV-AIDS prevention program by publishing reports and photographs deemed by authorities to be "contrary to national ethics and encourage[d] promiscuous behaviour."

On July 27, the Dar-es-Salam newspaper The Guardian quoted Minister of State for Information and Policy Omar Ramadhan Mapuri as saying that the government remained committed to press freedom, but that it would not hesitate to ban or suspend publications that violated rules and regulations pertaining to public safety or the national interest.

"Publishing pictures of half-naked persons seen making love promotes amorous behaviour and frustrates the move by the government and the society to fight against the killer disease AIDS," the minister explained.

The weekly tabloids Cheko, accused of relentlessly publishing pictures of semi-nude women, and Zungu were suspended for six months. Another tabloid, Kombora, was banned for one year. Other outlawed publications included Mama Huruma, Tafrani, Chachandu, Mizengwe, Maraha, Kula Vitu, Penzi Kikohozi, Uroda kwa Foleni, and Simulizi Kutoka Chumbani.

All 12 publications remained banned at year's end.

August 22
Erick Nampesya, BBC HARASSED
Dismas Ayuke, Majira HARASSED
Richard Mgamba, The East African HARASSED

Three journalists were arrested in the village of Nyamongo, allegedly on the orders of Tarime district commissioner Pascal Mabiti.

The three journalists were Nampesya, local correspondent for the BBC; Ayuke, a reporter with the Kiswahili-language daily paper Majira; and Mugamba, a reporter with the weekly East African.

The journalists had traveled to Tarime District in the Mara Region to investigate reports that 50 victims of ethnic clashes had secretly been buried in a mass grave. The district has seen ongoing strife between two ethnic clans, fueled by disputes over land boundaries, access to gold mines, and the cultivation of marijuana.

Mabiti confirmed the arrests but denied that he had ordered them.

On August 27, Mwanza Press Club chairman Abubakar Karsan said police had confirmed the arrests but had declined to specify charges or provide additional details.

The journalists were detained for two days and accused of "entering a restricted area." According to sources in Tanzania, district commissioners have the power to restrict access to areas under their jurisdiction, and Mabiti had previously forbidden people from visiting the conflict areas without his permission. The journalists were never charged, and no further action had been taken as of the end of December.

August 30
Saidi Msonda, Nipashe HARASSED
Athumani Hamisi, Nipashe HARASSED
Cassian Malima, Mtanzania HARASSED
Florian Kaijage, DTV HARASSED
Deus Ngowi, Mwananchi HARASSED
George Marato, Independent Television (ITV) HARASSED
Hamad Kitumbo, ITV HARASSED
Samson Chacha, Mwananchi HARASSED

Nine Tanzanian journalists were arrested on their way to the village of Kubiterere, where they were reporting on clashes between the Waanchari and Walyanchoka clans in the Mara region.

The journalists wanted to verify unconfirmed reports about the extent of the violence, which local residents claimed had killed several people, driven thousands of others into exile in Kenya, and destroyed more than 400 homes.

The journalists were held for five hours and then released.

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