Tanzania: Rights groups criticise Magufuli over increasing repression

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Two prominent rights groups have criticised Tanzania President John Magufuli, accusing him of creating an increasingly repressive regime.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) released separate statements on Monday, accusing Tanzania’s president of stifling opposition political groups, independent journalism and NGOs in the country. Both statements coin the same phrase to describe the current political situation under Magufuli’s rule: climate of fear.

‘Climate of fear’ in Tanzania

“As President Magufuli marks four years in office next month, he must carefully reflect on his government’s record of ruthlessly disemboweling the country’s human rights framework,” Amnesty International’s researcher for Tanzania, Roland Ebole, is quoted in the organisation’s statement.

“Since 2015, the government has stepped up censorship by banning or suspending at least five newspapers for content deemed critical,” the statement says. “These include Tanzania’s major English language daily newspaper, The Citizen, in 2019, and four others in 2017. The Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission also shut down a radio station, Swahiba FM, in October 2015 because it reported on the annulment and subsequent re-run of the 2015 elections.”

In its own statement, Human Rights Watch (HRW), researcher Oryem Nyeko calls on the country’s government to put an end to its repressive policies and respect the rights of citizens and institutions in the country.

“Tanzania should show true commitment to protecting and fulfilling the rights to freedom of expression and association,” Nyeko says in the statement. “The authorities need to put a stop to harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests of activists, journalists, and opposition members.”

Featured image: “World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim meets with President John Magufuli of Tanzania” flickr photo by World Bank Photo Collection https://flickr.com/photos/worldbank/32782210284 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.