Freedom of the media is in sharp decline following the brutal attack on Absalom Kibanda, Chairperson of Tanzania Editors Forum at his home in Dares Salaam.
07/03/2013, FAIR, Johannesburg
According to his colleagues, Kibanda is among the tough and fearless journalists in Tanzania who has made enemies due to his style of watchdog journalism.
The Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR), representing more than 100 journalists and Editors across the continent, hereby demands an urgent investigation into recent cases of abuse and harassment towards Tanzanian journalists.
FAIR members are in the process of brokering high-level talks with the Tanzanian government and police officials, to gain assurances for the safety of journalists.
FAIR Board Chairperson Mzilikazi wa Afrika, who visited Mr Kibanda in Johannesburg, explains “he was attacked by three men, one carrying a gun. His left eye was stabbed. Doctors are yet to confirm whether he will regain his vision. The top of his right finger was chopped off.”
Absalom Kibanda told FAIR “they beat me heavily until I fell down … then one of them said we are told to finish him, what are we still waiting … the other guy responded by saying No, don’t do that.”
FAIR supports and reiterates the observation by Article 19 that “the Tanzanian government has not shown any sort of commitment to addressing the issue.”
Kibanda was previously arrested and charged with sedition charges in 2012, following commentary by one of his reporters challenging the Police to stop implementing orders that directly violate human rights in the country.
The day he was attacked, Kibanda was due to appear before the Dar es Salaam court to face sedition charges instituted against him under the draconian Tanzania Newspapers Act of 1976.
A global awareness campaign will be launched by FAIR on behalf of the victims.
* For more information contact: Mzilikazi wa Afrika, FAIR Board Chairperson, on +2783 200 5774 or Abdullah Vawda, FAIR director, on +2711 482 8493, director[at]fairreporters.org