A spike in anti-press attacks is sowing fear and self-censorship among journalists in Tanzania. The safety of journalists in the country is mostly challenged during political rallies and demonstration, where they are often targets of harassment and aggression.
The declining standard on safety and security of journalists in Tanzania is largely driven by widespread attacks by state agents such as the police and politicians targeting journalists and media houses.
The Police are the most egregious perpetrators of violence against journalists, they are always uneasy with them covering the scuffle, so they always turn their wrath on them. Journalists in Tanzania are being intimidated by beatings, harassment and death threats.
Elias Msuya a journalist in Tanzania also a victim said journalists have been in dangerous situations ever since President Magufuli came into power, Msuya said he was interrogated by police together with his editor while at work.
“It was July 2016 when I wrote a commentary on the Police force challenging their affiliation with the ruling party during political rallies, they called me and interrogated me with my editor,” said Msuya.
Msuya also added that he was mistreated by the military soldiers because of taking photos of them assaulting the motorcyclist who blocked them a a highway.
“They robed me and took my phone and called me to their camp for interrogation. At last they released me after deleting all photos I took, and warned me not to write anything about it,” Msuya added.
According to Salome Kitomari the chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa Tanzania Chapter, journalists experience a hard time in Tanzania. She said this has resulted into self-censorship among journalists with many stories going untold.
“We experience intimidation, threats, and some journalists disappear in an unexplainable manner, this has forced us to neglect our work as journalists,” Kitomari narrated.
Barnabas Mwakalukwa the police spokesperson in Tanzanian did not answer our calls and text messages requesting comment.
Media reports say journalists are assaulted, their tools are confiscated and they are repeatedly blocked from accessing new scenes. The police, in particular, are accused of malicious and brutal arrest, detention for hours, and damaging journalists’ equipment.
According to reports by the Committee to protect journalists “CPJ”, journalists are frequently attacked mainly for covering stories on gross human rights violations, wanton corruption, bad governance, and poor leadership and in some cases, for abstruse reasons such as producing ‘inaccurate’ stories.
In August 2013 the committee reported a Tanzanian Journalist Daudi Mwangosi who was fired upon during an altercation with several officers that was sparked by the arrest of a colleague. Mwangosi was the first Tanzanian journalist killed in direct relation to his work. The Veteran camera man Mwangosi was killed in September 2012 while covering an opposition rally in a rural area outside Iringa when a police officer fired a tear gas canister at him at close range.