Saturday, June 3, 2023

In Tanzania, hope rises for a better journalism environment

Tanzania’s president called for a review of the East African country’s media laws and regulations, saying she wanted to “ensure measures to protect journalists and open up more space for freedom of expression and media.”

Samia Suluhu Hassan made her remarks on World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday at a gathering of journalists, government officials and others in Arusha, northern Tanzania. according to this east african Newspaper,

Maxens Melo Mubayazi, an award-winning journalist in Tanzania, said he takes this as an encouraging sign after “a lot of arrests, a lot of attacks on the press” in recent years.

“We welcome the President’s political will to review the current stringent laws in the country,” said the founding editor of the online discussion forum. frozen forumThose who themselves have endured arrest and jail time.

He told the VOA on Wednesday that he hoped it would “make sure that at least we have the structures in place and that we don’t go by presidential orders.” Melo Hassan’s predecessor, John Magufuli, had been serving as the presidency from 2015, until his death in March 2021 at the age of 61.

During Magafuli’s tenure, journalists were often arrested for their critical coverage of the government and political dissent was discouraged. Tanzania’s ranking in Reporters Without Borders’ annual press freedom index has dropped from 71st to 124th in the five years beginning 2016.

Reporters Without Borders noted in its latest report that Magufuli had become “more and more authoritarian and hostile towards the media” and that Hassan’s rise to power “brought early signs of hope that have yet to emerge.” ”

In February, Hassan’s administration lifted the ban on four media outlets: Masato, Mavio, Mwanahlisi and Tanzanian Daima. He was booked for offenses related to his coverage of alleged corruption, According to Amnesty International,

And Hassan has directed the Ministry of Information, Communications and Information Technology to work with media stakeholders and others on reviewing the laws and possibly easing restrictions.

Mello is among those being asked to weigh in on “drastic” measures such as the 2015 Cyber ​​Crime Act and the 2016 Media Services Act.

“I have been part of the team that is reviewing the laws,” said Melo, who had previously felt their bite. He was convicted of obstructing a police investigation in April 2020, and fined 3 million Tanzanian shillings, or $1,300, instead of a year behind bars, According to the Committee to Protect Journalists,

File - sandra mims rowe, left, and maxens melo mubayazi, pose on stage at the 29th annual international press freedom awards of the committee to protect journalists, november 21, 2019 in new york.

FILE – Sandra Mims Rowe, left, and Maxens Melo Mubayazi, pose on stage at the 29th Annual International Press Freedom Awards of the Committee to Protect Journalists, November 21, 2019 in New York.

CPJ, which awarded Mello its 2019 International Press Freedom Award, said that “the allegation stemmed from Mello’s refusal to disclose the identity of the whistleblower on the allegedly frozen forums.

Melo told VOA that the Jamie Forum, established as a for-profit business, is now a non-governmental organization. “We are focused on good governance, accountability and democracy,” he said.

Since Hassan took office, Melo said, “People on cyberspace can now at least criticize the government or critically analyze any statement that comes from any political figure. … Right now, journalists are now writing stories that could not be written in the last six years.

When it comes to the news media, “in fact, the environment is slowly opening up,” agreed Amnesty International researcher Roland Ebole. Based in Nairobi, he oversees Tanzania and Uganda.

Amnesty praised Tanzania’s lifting of restrictions from the newspaper in February, but also said the government “must do more to guarantee media freedom going forward.”

Ebole, a free press, told VOA, “This will mean that the people of Tanzania are looking to the future with the most hope in terms of expressing themselves and receiving information – and information that will help them through all of their lives.” aspects, be it economic, social and cultural.

“We are somehow optimistic,” Melo said of journalists and rights activists. But, he cautioned, “the laws are still there, really harsh laws. If they are not amended, they can be used by anyone who is against us.”

Separately, a Tanzanian government spokesman told VOA that the measures could be relaxed – up to a point.

“You can’t have a profession without rules to govern, like a tire vibrating without any controls,” spokesman Grayson Misigawa said in a recent interview. “We must get to the point where we can all agree that we need to protect the interests of the media and the people as well.”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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