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Tanzania War on Information and the New Internet Paradigm

Press and online freedom of expression have consistently been under threat in Tanzania.

In the past, Tanzania had a relatively free and critical media. Traditional media channels are reporting openly about political affairs and have controversial issues of public interest widely discussed.

Like most parts of the world, but the influence of new media, social has increased in recent times. This change has influenced the nature of Tanzania’s media environment and give people to share views and have access to information without restrictions.

However, following the election, President John Magufuli in December 2015, Tanzania has witnessed a marked decline in respect for free expression, association and assembly, Human Rights Watch says.

Tanzanian’s Repeal Repressive Laws

Between 2015 and 2019, six repressive pieces of legislation have been adopted: the Cyber Crimes Act (2015), the Statistics Act (2015), the Media Services Act (2016), the Access to Information Act (2016), the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2017 (adopted in March 2018) and the Written Laws Bill 2019.

All these regulations are set to give the government unfettered powers to police the web. Political opponents continue to be the target of harassment, arrests and even disappearances as results of the use of these abusive laws.

Investigate Abuses of Activists, Critics and Political Opponents

Critics accuse the government of tightening control over internet content. Freedom of expression is seriously under threat and the authorities are clearly intensifying their crackdown on dissent and journalists are on the front line of attack.

Media Council of Tanzania v. Attorney General

Not long ago the East African Court of Justice unanimously held that numerous provisions in Tanzania’s Media Services Act violated the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community as they infringed the right to freedom of expression.

Citizens say they have less freedom than they did three years ago

Across a range of different freedoms, citizens consistently, say their freedom has declined in the past three years. The decline is most marked in the case of independent institutions: six out of ten citizens say the freedom of opposition parties (64%), the media (62%) and civil society (58%) has declined. Citizens also say their individual freedoms have declined, including freedom to say what they think about political matters (54%), to form groups or organisations (47%) and to join political organisations (37%).

Will there be a change?

In November 2019, President Magufuli replace the leadership of the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) to help people whose rights are violated.

In December 2019, Tanzania government is planning to block individuals and NGOs from directly filing cases against the government to the African rights court.

Human Rights, civil societies and right activists have been calling on the Tanzanian authorities to put an end to this negative trend by guaranteeing the full respect of the rights to freedom of information, of private life, and of expression.

SUSA Internet/Information Rights reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. 

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