The Government of Tanzania has suspended the Citizen, a privately-owned daily newspaper, for seven days claiming that it “deliberately published misleading news about the depreciation of the Tanzanian Shilling against the dollar” on Saturday, 23 February 2019. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) urge Tanzanian authorities to immediately lift the suspension and to allow all media to report without any form of censorship or intimidation.
According to a statement issued by the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), the Tanzanian Registrar of Newspaper, Mr. Patrick Kipangula, said that the Citizen newspaper “deliberately published misleading information that the value of the Tanzanian shilling has declined compared to three years ago without following the due procedure and financial standards set by the Bank of Tanzania.”
Kipangula added that the decision to suspend the newspaper follows the publication of several articles which, he said, were “misleading and largely violated media ethics” and that they “incited people going against the Government.
The publication’s website and Twitter feed are now offline. The decision has been condemned by several foreign ambassadors in Tanzania.
“This is a highly disproportionate and heavy handed measure which amounts to intimidation of independent reporting in Tanzania,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger. “There are other reasonable ways which would allow government to address what it considers to be inaccurate stories in the media. The suspension against the Citizen is a deliberate attack on press freedom, which has no place in democracy.”
The President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), Alsadiq Ibrahim Alrizagi, said: “The suspension of the Citizen Newspaper can’t be justified under any circumstance. This kind of censorship acts can only be considered as repressive and as an attempt to undermine the free flow of information. Authorities must respect the human right of the citizens to receive free and independent information.”