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Continuing Suppression of Freedom of Opinion and Expression in Tanzania

  • Continuing Suppression of Freedom of Opinion and Expression in Tanzania
Continuing Suppression of Freedom of Opinion and Expression in Tanzania

Continuing Suppression of Freedom of Opinion and Expression in Tanzania

Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) is observing with concern the continuing trend of suppressing the right to freedom of expression and opinion by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. On the 2nd January 2018, the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) issued a decision against five prominent television stations in Tanzania namely Azam Two TV, Independent Television (ITV), Channel 10, Star TV and East African TV (EATV). Under the TCRA decision the television stations were found guilty and fined for contravening the rules under the Broadcasting Services (Content) Regulations, 2005, specifically Rules 5(a)(h); 6(2)(b)(c); and 6(3).

The television stations had aired in their news bulletins a Press Statement issued by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) on 30th November 2017. The Press Statement was on human rights violations observed by LHRC during ward counsellors’ by-election conducted in 43 wards on 26th November 2017. LHRC had observed human rights violations such as physical abuse; detention; intimidation of voters, the arrest of political parties’ leaders and agents. Among other things, the Press Statement called upon the authorities to make sure that they take proper measures to address shortcomings and human rights abuses observed, taking into consideration that the country is due to conduct the Local Government Elections in 2019 and the General Elections in 2020. TCRA has thus found the television stations guilty and issued monetary fines citing that the aired news bulletins were seditious, inciting violence and further were against journalist professional conduct contrary to cited provisions above.

LHRC has thus taken the following measures following the decision by TCRA:

  1. Extended solidarity with the five television stations;
  2. Issued a Press Statement on 3rd January 2018 condemning the decision made by TCRA;
  3. Reminded the Government and its machinery to observe principles of democracy and right to freedom of opinion and expression;
  4. Issued a letter to the TCRA demanding for clarification from the same on contents of a Press Statement;
  5. Inaugurated a fundraising campaign to mitigate the burden of the media houses paying arbitrary fines;
  6. Contacted its partners, both domestic and international to find a common ground on addressing the continuing oppression of freedom of opinion and expression;
  7. To work with other partners who have expressed the intention of seeking the judicial interpretation of what amounts to “sedition/incitement”.

The Legal and Human Rights (LHRC) calls upon every Tanzanian to play her/his part in condemning unconstitutional suppression of the right to free expression by the state.

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