Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera, who is an investigative journalist was arrested at his home in Dar es Salaam. He was charged with money laundering, tax evasion, and leading organized crime.
Erick has written many investigative articles for various publications. He wrote an article which was titled,
“No End in Sight as Tanzania’s Ruling Party, CCM Goes for` Dissenters`.” This article entered the East African.
This published article outlines the cracks within Tanzania’s ruling party. He was arrested just after publishing the said article.
Tanzanian journalist accepts guilt
Erick kabendera accepted a plea deal with prosecutors in order to gain his freedom. He accepted to pay 74,000 dollars fine for failure to pay taxes and 44,000 dollars for money laundering. His attorney, Jebra Kamole, said his client had health complications during his detention and therefore had to accept the plea.
The agreement they reached with the prosecution for the plea has finally led to his sentencing. Mr kabendera agreeing to the deal has led to the prosecution believing that he’s admitting guilt.
“I have a duty to do everything possible to reach an agreement with the prosecutor. so we bargained. And it has been part of his sentencing for his acceptance of being guilty. It was also agreed to drop the charge for leading a criminal gang. His guilt was based on the agreement we had to reach, for his release,” said Kambole.
There is so much restriction on free speech in Tanzania. This has been so since the election of President John Magufuli in 2015. According to the Media Services Act passed in 2016, it is a misconduct to write or print subversive content. People who violate this act will call for a jail term of five years.
Tanzanian newspaper” The Citizen”, once had its operations on hold for seven days in 2019. It was based on charges it had published” fake news”. The law has used this way to impose their strictness on this matter. But what is the journalist without his freedom of speech and expression.
“some of these laws which have been used to mute journalists were drafted before Magufuli was elected but they have been executed very hostilely under his presidency,”
lamented Muthoki Mumo. She is the East African correspondent at the committee to protect journalists.
Things Have Become really difficult for journalists in Tanzania especially press freedom advocates in general. Observers are concerned that suppression could worsen since Tanzania is entering an election year. This is because there is a ban on political rallies in the country.
Journalists are going to have a hard time because they will not be able to show the people what is happening in these political rallies. There are still fears that the recent arrest could have a terrifying effect on the capability of the press to cover elections from documenting political rallies.
Roland Ebole, Amnesty International Tanzanian researcher fears that the latest apprehension could have a chilling effect on the press. With Magufuli positioning himself as an anti-corruption advocate he will not allow a free press to operate.
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