ARTICLE 19 is disappointed that the Tanzanian government has permanently banned Mawio newspaper, effective from 15 January 2016. We call upon the government of President John Magufuli to rescind this decision.
“It is worrying that the Tanzania government continues to use the 1976 Newspapers act to harass and intimidate journalists. We call for the immediate repeal of this law,” said Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Director.
Announcing the ban, the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Mr Nape Nnauye, said the decision was reached after the newspaper embarked on a series of news articles that, according to him, “had all the indications of inciting violence in the country.”
“Recent news articles in Mawio, which had all the ingredients of inciting violence, include that in which they declared Mr Seif Sharif Hamad as the new President of Zanzibar and another that had a headline that showed that Zanzibar was about to shed blood,” he explained to the media in Tanzania.
The East African newspaper was banned on 21 January 2015 after the newspaper’s Bureau Chief, Christopher Kidanka, had been summoned and interrogated by the Director of Information Services, Mr Assa Mwambene, who doubles as the government’s spokesman. During the session, the government expressed displeasure at the newspaper’s reporting and analysis, including its opinion pieces.
Mr Mwambene accused the newspaper of having an agenda against Tanzania. He singled out a recent opinion piece criticising the Dar es Salaam administration’s stance on Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr Mwambene also took exception to the cartoon in that week’s issue of The East African, which he said demonstrated bad taste and disrespect to the person and office of the President.
As ARTICLE 19 noted in its individual UPR submission, Tanzania has not repealed or amended laws negatively affecting freedom of expression and the space for media to freely operate has become increasingly restricted.
We continue to advocate for the repeal the 1976 Newspapers Act, and other laws infringing freedom of expression, including the Film Stage and Plays Act, National Security Act, and any other legislation which contradicts the Constitution and the international standards on freedom of expression and access to information.
Contact: Henry Maina, Director, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa
+254 20 3862230/1/2