Tanzania imposes two-year publishing ban on newspaper

June 18, 2017

Tanzania should immediately revoke a publishing ban on Mawio, a privately owned weekly newspaper, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said.

Tanzania’s Information, Sports and Culture minister Harrison Mwakyembe imposed a 24-month ban on Mawio’s print editions and any articles posted online yesterday over articles that mentioned two retired presidents, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete, in reports on a government investigation into allegations of misconduct in the mining sector, according to a statement by the director of Information Services, Hassan Abbasi.

The statement, viewed by CPJ, accused Mawio of contravening a state directive and the Media Services Act by publishing pictures of the two former presidents on the front page of its June 15-21 edition and writing a story allegedly linking them to the mining investigations.The minister’s statement cited Article 59 of the Media Services Act, which allows authorities to “prohibit or otherwise sanction the publication of any content that jeopardises national security or public safety.”

“We are extremely concerned that Tanzania is using public order as an excuse to frustrate the flow of information and public debate,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal in New York. “A two-year ban is tantamount to closing the publication. We urge the government to let Mawio resume operations and to stop stifling critical voices.”