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Arrest of journalist: UK, US urge Tanzania to respect “due process”

Aug 09, 2019

Tanzanian investigative journalist, Erick Kabendera, sits inside the Kisutu Residents Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Aug. 5, 2019. (Reuters)

As a result of the arrest and arraignment of a freelance investigative journalist in Tanzania, Erick Kabendera, both the United Kingdom and United States have urged the authorities in the country on Friday to guarantee due process of law in the case.

The journalist’s lawyer and rights groups had called his trial ‘politically motivated’.

Kabendera was charged on Monday with money laundering, tax evasion and leading organized crime.

He was arrested the previous week over what police said were issues concerning his citizenship.

Press quoted rights groups as saying press freedom in Tanzania had deteriorated since President John Magufuli was elected in 2015.

His administration is reported to have shut down newspapers, arrested opposition leaders and activists and restricted political rallies. The government rejects charges that its policies are authoritarian.

“The irregular handling of the arrest, detention, and indictment of investigative journalist Erick Kabendera, including the fact that he was denied access to a lawyer in the early stages of his detention, (is) contrary to the Criminal Procedures Act,” the U.S. and British said in a joint statement.

Emmanuel Buhohela, spokesman at Tanzania’s foreign affairs ministry, said that the matter regarding Kabendera is before the country’s courts of law. “They should let justice follow its due course,” he told Reuters.

Kabendera, 39, has written for national and international publications, including The Guardian and The Times of London. He published a story last month in the regional newspaper The East African about purported internal divisions within the ruling party before a presidential election in 2020.

The court has adjourned until Aug. 19, when the case will come up for mention.

Money laundering is not a bailable offence in Tanzania.