More than half of press freedom violations in 2015 were election related
Trends of recorded press freedom violation incidents in 2015 shows that 75% of them were related to the coverage of the 2015 General Elections.
According to the 2015 Press Freedom Violation Report released here today, 17 of the incidents occurred when journalists were covering the 2015 general elections.
Please click the link below to read 2015 Press Freedom Violation Report
The incidents include harassment, threats and intimidation, physical assaults of journalists, closure of two radio stations, burning of a radio station, damage of journalist’s equipment and cyber attack against a social media forum.
Stories of assault of journalists were numerous and the MCT Press Freedom Violation Register shows that in June, 2015 a Zanzibar freelance journalist, Omar Ali was viciously beaten by unknown assailants, both his legs broken and then abandoned at the Maisara grounds in Zanzibar.
Omar’s attack was associated with his coverage of the voters registration exercise in Zanzibar where it is alleged that state agents used force to prevent some people from registering on political grounds. The assaults were carried out by political vigilantes, members of political parties and also by the police.
Masoud Maulid who works for Kyela FM Community Radio was assaulted and arrested by police during polling day on October 25, when covering opposition members who were demanding the announcement of the election results. According to Maulid, although he showed his identification he was not spared and was beaten by police who broke his leg.
Two radio stations were closed down by government agencies during the election period. In August, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) closed Kyela FM Community Radio for an indefinite period for what it claimed broadcasting without a permanent license and keeping the radio transmitter in the broadcasting house. However, investigations on the matter showed that the ban was for political reasons.
On 26 October, 2015 Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission closed down Swahiba FM Radio which had apparently aired the press conference in which CUF presidential candidate Seif Sheriff Hamad had declared himself the winner. Announcing presidential results from sources other than Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) is against the law. Hamad’s declaration however was broadcast by international media.
Other recorded incidents include the banning of the regional newspaper, the East African in January 2015, 20 years after it began circulating in the country. The government’s explanation on its drastic move was that the newspaper had been circulating in the country without registration, contrary to Section 6 of the Newspaper Act number 3 of 1976. The government also accused the newspaper of having a negative agenda against Tanzania in its coverage.