By Amos Fofung
International rights group, Human Rights Watch has condemned the Tanzanian government for banning leading newspaper, The Citizen, saying it is part of a “series of attacks on freedom of expression” by the government of president John Pombe Magufuli.
The Citizen, we should recall, was last week banned from circulation print copies and online for seven days after they were accused of spreading “false information” about the devaluation of the Tanzanian shilling.
The organization warned that the actions of the government could prevent ‘people from having legitimate discussions about serious issues facing the country’.
Human Rights Watch reference previous suspensions on newspapers including the 2017 ban on four newspapers, and the 2016 Media Services Act which gives the government the power to restrict and limit the independence of the media.
‘‘This is all part of a wider pattern of repression targeting freedom of expression over the past few years including creating an excessively high fee to blog, criminalizing posting certain content online, fining TV stations, and prohibiting the publication of independent statistics without government permission,” Human Rights Watch observed adding that,
“Tanzania’s constitution guarantees the right of citizens to be informed of issues of importance to society. But when the government suspends newspapers, it creates an environment of fear and prevents people from having legitimate discussions about serious issues facing the country. Tanzania should stop stifling freedom of expression and stop banning newspapers.