In our cause to promote civic space and democracy in Tanzania, we (LHRC) condemn suspension of “The Citizen” newspaper for a period of seven days following the accusation of publishing false information in a story on depreciation of the shilling against the dollar on February 23. Suspension of The Citizen newspaper is a continuation of crackdown on the freedom of expression and freedom of press in Tanzania, which is contrary to the article 18 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania which guarantees basic rights to expression and access to information.
We are of the view that the punishment is not proportionate to the allegation instead it aims at intensifying fear to the media hence curtailing free expression of dissent opinion in media. We are totally against any act that threatens and/or denies people their right to freedom of expression and access to information.
However, what happened to "The Citizen" is not new in Tanzania and is expected to continue because of existing restrictive media laws including Media Services Act 2016; Statistics Act 2015; Access to Information Act, 2016; Online Content Regulations, 2018 and many more.
We would also like to raise a point of clarification on the process of suspending the newspaper (The Citizen); according to section 59 of the Media Services Act, 2016 the Minister is the only authority vested with powers to prohibit or sanction the newspaper but to the contrary a letter to suspend The Citizen was issued by the Registrar of Newspapers.
We call on the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to guarantee people's basic freedoms by amending all restrictive sections in its legislations and stop impeding on free expression and free press.
We believe that freedom of expression is significant if the country is to achieve its drive for development.
"No Freedom of Expression, No Development"
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