RSF asks Tanzania to explain yesterday’s brief arrests of CPJ visitors

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Tanzanian authorities to fully clarify the detention of two visiting representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for several hours yesterday.

Angela Quintal, the CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator, and Muthoki Mumo, its sub-Saharan Africa representative, were released last night after being arrested at their Dar es Salaam hotel by a group of men who said they were working for the Tanzanian immigration authority

Tanzanian government spokesman Hassan Abbasi said the Tanzanian authorities had been trying to establish whether the “supposed CPJ journalists” had been authorized to enter the country. They were released after being questioned by the immigration authorities, but their passports were seized and only returned midday today, said the CPJ in a statement.

It was Quintal herself who broke the news of their arrest on Twitter. Her Twitter account was used a few hours later to announce their release although they were still being questioned. CPJ executive director Joel Simon said the possibility that Quintal’s devices had been compromised was “extremely alarming.” Twitter later suspended her account. 

We unreservedly condemn the arrest of these two staunch press freedom defenders” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “The Tanzanian authorities have a duty to ensure the safety of these two journalists and their freedom of movement.” 

RSF is extremely concerned about the rapid decline in press freedom in Tanzania. Azori Gwanda, a reporter for Mwananchi, the leading Swahili-language newspaper, has not been seen since disappearing nearly a year ago while investigating a series of murders of local officials in the eastern Pwani region. 

Tanzania is ranked 93rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index after falling ten places in the space of a year, one of the biggest falls registered by any country.

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Updated on 08.11.2018