Journalists in Tanzania are living in constant fear, wondering where the next attack will come from.
A damning report released yesterday by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) paints a dark picture of the state of media freedom in this East African nation of 45 million people.
“The recent increase in journalist attacks, coupled with a volley of anti-press laws, is making reporters increasingly fearful for their safety,” CPJ East Africa consultant Tom Rhodes said yesterday in a statement posted on the media watchdog’s website.
A rise in anti-press attacks set against a backdrop of repressive laws, and the long-term censorship of one critical publication is sowing fear and self-censorship among journalists in Tanzania, CPJ said in its new report.
Despite Tanzania’s reputation for transparency and democracy, CPJ regrets that its citizens are being denied vital information. The report, called The Invisible Plight of the Tanzanian Press, cites a spike in such attacks and threats over the past year.
CPJ said it has documented 10 in the past 11 months, including the killing of a veteran cameraman by a cop while covering an opposition rally. No officer has yet been held accountable for the death, CPJ said.
A journalist reached by telephone by Moon of the South corroborated CPJ’s report, saying that the situation is tense and scary. The government is going crazy over critical reporting, the source said, adding that exile looked the best option to avoid a premature and violent death.
“The government of Tanzania’s crackdown on freedom of the press and expression is a clear sign that it feels threatened ahead of the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections,” Nairobi-based Rhodes said.
“But in order to live up to international standards of transparency and democracy, the government must allow journalists to report on what is going on in the country without fear of repercussion.”
Photo: Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete. Credit courtesy of Nation Media Group