Saturday, February 17, 2018
   
Text Size

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT ON A SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE OF MR. AZORY GWANDA-A JOURNALIST FROM MWANANCHI COMMUNICATIONS LTD.

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT ON A SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE OF MR. AZORY GWANDA-A JOURNALIST FROM MWANANCHI COMMUNICATIONS LTD.

Introduction

Tanzania Human Rights Defenders (THRDC) in collaboration with the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Tanzania media women’s association (TAMWA),The Organization for Journalist Against Drugs And Crime in Tanzania (OJADACT), Union of Tanzania Press Clubs ( UTPC) together with other media stakeholders, we would like to condemn the kidnapping of the mwananchi communication Ltd journalist , Mr. Azory Gwanda who was reporting from kibiti coastal region. 18 days have passed now since his disappearance on 21st November 2017, without sufficient investigative measures from security forces.

After receiving the information, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition in collaboration with media stakeholders formed a small committe which was sent to Kibiti to confirm on the information we had and obtain more details about the issue. The committee went to Kibiti and collected relevant information about the disappearance of Mr.Azory, the environment of his disappearance, the reasons for his disappearance together with the effort that were made by the police and the citizens to make sure that Mr. Azory returns home safely. The team was given the following hints to follow, to meet up with his wife, relatives and friends together with the neighbours, local government and police.

The purpose of creating this committee was to avoid working on information that we are not sure of. The committee reports that Mr. Azory had disappeared from 21st November 2017. The reports about his disappearance were confirmed by his wife, Anna Penoni, local government leaders, relatives and neighbors.

Short history of Mr. Azory and his work as a Journalist

According to the information collected by the committee, Mr. Azory Gwanda is Muha by tribe, a native of Kigoma Region in Tanzania aged of 42. He received his primary education in Kigoma at Msimba Primary School and then moved to Bulangamilwa Primary School at Tabora and later joined secondary education at Nanga secondary, Igunga in Tabora .He later moved to Dar es Salaam to his brother in 1990s. Since then Mr.Azory has taken few short courses including journalism and a Diploma at Maarifa colladge in Dar es Salaam. He has been an independent journalist until he joined the Mwananchi Communication Limited and also works as an independent journalist who reports in the Mwananchi newspaper at Kibiti in Coastal Region. Before joining the Mwananchi communication Limited, Mr. Azory Gwanda was working at WAPO FM Radio Station as a senior writer.

His work at kibiti district in coastal region

It should be recalled that between 2016 and 2017, there arised a series of atrocities including killings, that were conducted by unknown men in Kibiti District, Coastal Region where Mr. Azory lives and work as a journalist. According to Article 18 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977, “everyone has the right to access and provide information”. The interpretation of this Article cannot exclude journalists due to the fact that they are citizens just like other citizens referred to in our Constitution especially the Article above. Therefore in such circumstances you cannot expect to see journalists stop reporting news because he has a constitutional right. The report shows journalist Azory was a prominent reporter on human rights violation and incidence of insecure environment in kibiti

Mr. Azory Gwanda as the journalist has been using the right to provide information on what was happening in Kibiti District. Even after the government declared that there is no more killing in kibiti , he continued to seek information and to inform the public, because it was reported that there were some few killings still happening in the district, so he still had the responsibility to do research and to bring information to the public through Mwananchi newspaper. It is in the context that we think it may have led to his disappearance

Testimony from different interviewed people about Mr Azorys’ disappearance

(1) Azorys’ wife

Mr.Azorys’ wife, Anna Penoni said that her husband disappeared on Tuesday, 21st November 2017. A land cruiser motor vehicle with four people arrived at the kibiti area where Mr.Azory Gwanda lives, left with him and the vehicle went to a nearby farm, where they met Mr. Azorys wife. Mr. Azory who sat at the back of the seat, asked his wife about the location of keys at their house. And after leaving the field in the vehicle they headed to Mr.Azorys residence. After getting information from his wife, they left with their car and went to Unknown place, while giving his wife an explanation of an emergency trip and he could return later on that day or the next day. Since that day Mr. Azory is yet to be seen. Mr. Azorys’ wife Anna Penoni reported that, after the incident she reviewed all the documents inside their house and found some documents such as certificates, and identification cards were missing.
She reported the incidence at kibiti police station since 23rd November, 2017 under case registration no. RB/1496/2017 and the case file were opened by the police pledging to undertake an investigation.  Sadly the police have not yet reported any efforts they made to achieve the accession of Mr.Azory. Anna Penoni has also asked the relevant agencies to assist her to find her husband because she depends on him and she does not have any other support. Sadly speaking, Ms Anna said “now Iam pregnant I can delivery at any time from now, my husband is a great support, I ask the government to hear my cry for my husband to return safely”.
 

(ii) Azorys neighbors

Some of his neighbors, reported that on the incidence day, they saw a Land Cruiser motor vehicle coming into Azory’s home but they thought it would be Azorys’ colleagues (journalist) that it was not the first time cars to be spotted at his home. They said that the car did not show any indications that the people in it were bandits but felt that they were probably people from the government. He alleged that the car stayed for 15 minutes in Azory’s home before they went to the unknown place.

(iii) Mr.Azorys friends

Some of his friends interviewed, said that Mr. Azory Gwanda was Probabbly arrested because of his writings, and they believe that the people who took him did not show any indicator to harm him and also they believe that he was taken to be questioned by police and to be released after few hours.

(iv) Local government testimony:

In case of local government leaders where Mr. azory lives they had no information concerning his disappearance, until Azorys wife gave them information on the incidence, however the local authority said they did not have any doubt with the journalist Mr.Azory, because he had been fighting for the rights of many people for a long time and that would not be easy for the journalist to be kidnapped by unknown people and they also believe that he may be in the safe hands and can be released at anytime.

  1. (i)Coastal region police testimony:

The task force had a chance to talk to the coastal regional police commander who admitted to receive the information about the disappearance of Mr. Azory Gwanda was actually reported at local Kibiti Police Station and RB no./1496/2017 was given however the police commander was quoted saying “since Azory Gwanda told his wife that he was going on an emergency trip and he would return on the same day or the next day”, he would probably return. He continued to say that since the matter has already been reported police were working on it and promised to give information to the public and to his wife if they receive any information that would help in the accession of Mr.Azory. He added that it was early to say who was arrested since police investigation is still underway.

The Safety of Citizens and Legal Protection of their Property

It should be noted that everyone has the right to protection in accordance with the laws of our country, state organs have the responsibility to protect citizen and their property, according to article 7 of the International Convention on the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance it states that, any situation wither a threat of war, political conflict or public emergency cannot justify the loss of a person

Also in Part 2 under Section 5(1) of the Police Force and Auxilliary Services Act states that “the police force will be employed in the United Republic for the sake of peace keeping, maintain law and stability, preventing and detecting crime, arresting criminals and protecting properties, and in the executions of all such obligations they will have the right to carry weapons” all of this is the authority given to the police in protecting the citizens and their properties

We are disappointed with the tendency of disappearance of people, and nothing has been done or seen to done to prevent these events which are increasingly observed in our coutry. Human Rights Defenders, journalist, politicians and artists have been reported to be kidnapped and disappeared, among them have been bruised badly; there are those whose whereabouts are still unknown and others have returned with great fear.

Many human rights defenders and journalists have experienced these problems significantly and often due to their work, so urgent action must be taken to ensure that Mr. Azory Gwanda is found. International and Regional Agreements prohibit any form of kidnapping and enforced disappearance.

In this context we all observe the fact that human rights defenders are no longer safe. We asked the Police Force to give us protection in a peaceful demonstration to the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to send our queries and our outcry but the Police Force Denied. The police force spokes man on behalf of the IGP rejected the peaceful demonstration. However, we are grateful due to the fact that they allowed us to form a team of few representatives who will meet with the IGP so they can present to him our concerns. We believe that we shall have great cooperation and we shall find the solutions to the problems facing human rights defenders.

According to our brief observation we believe that Mr.Azory is alive, and he may have been detained by unknown persons for unknown reasons. His return will depend on how the outcry of stakeholders and his family will be considered by the Police Force.

Our call:

  1. Defense and security forces must ensure that every citizen in Tanzania lives in freedom and security. The police force must be ready to protect the citizens and their property against any evil.
  2. CSOs, the Media and the general public of Tanzania should be in the forefront of condemning any actions that are part of the breach of peace and preventing the freedom of expression in Tanzania, we should all criticize all the situation that prevent us from enjoying our rights. Today it is Mr.Azory but in the coming days we don’t know who might be taken again by unknown men.
  3. Human rights defenders should join and raise our voices together against the tendency of disappearince of people which is getting worse day by day.
  4. To counteract this wave of kidnapping and disappearance among Tanzanians, the government of Tanzania should sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance as well as International Convention against Torture.
  5. The government must ensure that all people involved in disappearance of Mr. Azory gwanda should be arrested and wait for the law to take its course. and prevent the events like thise in the future.
  6. Political leaders and parliament should seen the need to discuss the issue of kidnapping and disappearance of our fellow Tanzanians and come up with strong resolutions.
  7. The international organizations should hands with Tanzanians to oppose the abuse of human right and defend the rights of the journalists in Tanzania.
  8. All Tanzanians should take part in identifying all people with bad intentions to harm their fellow citizens.

Issued on 09Th December, 2017

Signed on behalf of:

BY:

Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)

Media Council of Tanzania (MCT)

Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC)

The Organization of Journalist against Drug Abuse and Crime in Tanzania (OJADACT)

Journalism Awards

awaa

OUR RSS

  • No feeds found!