Two reports on Tanzania, released separately by the Amnesty and Human Rights Watch NGOs, charge President John Magufuli’s government with stifling the free press, opposition politicians and NGOs.
The reports follow several years of progressively harsher laws and penalties since Magufuli was elected in 2015. The country has seen routine harassment and detentions of activists and journalists, with some disappearances and deaths.
“As President Magufuli marks four years in office next month, he must carefully reflect on his government’s record of ruthlessly disemboweling the country’s human rights framework,” said Roland Ebole, Amnesty International’s Tanzania researcher.
He was joined by his counterpart at HRW, Africa researcher Oryem Nyeko. “Tanzania should show true commitment to protecting and fulfilling the rights to freedom of expression and association,” Nyeko said. “The authorities need to put a stop to harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests of activists, journalists, and opposition members.”
HRW said the report released Monday by Amnesty International, “The price of dissent: targeted by the State,” and the HRW report, “‘As Long as I am Quiet, I am Safe: Threats to Independent Media and Civil Society in Tanzania,” were researched and documented separately but their findings were similar. Both organizations carried out research in Tanzania over 2018.
While Magufuli has been a frequent target of Western criticism on human rights, African human rights advocates also have appealed for protection of democratic freedoms in Tanzania. Some 65 African leaders signed a letter last year warning that “scores of political opposition members and parliamentarians have been violently attacked and even killed.”
Image: Presidency of Tanzania file