Media rights defenders detained under unclear circumstances
MISA Zimbabwe joins the international community in condemning the overnight detention of Angela Quintal, Africa programme coordinator with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and its sub- Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo.
Tanzanian officials, who claimed to be working for the country’s immigration department, picked the two media freedom advocates from a hotel in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, 7 November and only released them in the early hours of the next day.
Quintal and Mumo are back at their hotel but Tanzanian officials are still in possession of both their passports, thus limiting their freedom of movement. It is unclear why the pair were detained, as they both travelled to Tanzania legally to assess the state of media freedom in that country.
In a statement, the Tanzanian Immigration Services Department denied having any knowledge of Quintal and Mumo’s whereabouts. It is reported that the South African High Commissioner in Tanzania will pursue the matter to find out the motive for the unwarranted detentions.
Tanzanian President Magufuli’s government has in recent years been intensifying its curbs against free expression in that country. This has seen the Tanzanian government introducing a hefty tax aimed at bloggers and online content creators, and physical assaults on journalists.
Recently, the country gazetted a law that restricts the ability to fact-check government issued statistics.
CPJ has been unwavering in its calls for respect of media freedoms in Tanzania, a development that might have instigated the detention of the two CPJ staffers.
In a similar but unrelated incident, eSwatini police questioned and detained Musa Ndlangamandla over a story he wrote in 2011 when he was still Chief Editor of the Swazi Observer.
Ndlangamandla was accused of being critical of the State in his article that focused on eSwatini’s opposition parties. He was questioned by the Tingculungculu police wing that investigates serious crimes committed in the Southern African kingdom.
He was eventually released without any charges.
MISA Zimbabwe condemns these wanton acts of intimidation and harassment.
MISA Zimbabwe Regional Solidarity Statement