Detained Tanzanian journalist’s health worsens

Journalists in Tanzania have reported that detained journalist Erick Kabendera’s health is failing and the Tanzanian government has denied all requests by human rights groups to allow Kadendera access to a his own doctor. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today issued a statement expressing concerns over Kabendera’s health situation and called for Tanzanian authorities to release him immediately.

“Erick Kabendera should not be behind bars, and the reports that he is experiencing health problems in detention are deeply distressing,” CPJ’s Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo said, adding that, “Tanzanian authorities have a duty to ensure that Kabendera receives the urgent medical care he needs, but more than that, they should put an end to their contrived legal delays and free Kabendera unconditionally.”

A Dar es Salaam magistrate has declined a request from Kabendera’s lawyers for prison officials to take the journalist to a local hospital, saying that he was sitting in for the trial magistrate and could not grant such a request, according to news reports. The court adjourned the case against Kabendera until September 12, after the government claimed that it needed more time to carry out investigations. Jebra Kambole, one of Kabendera’s lawyers, says the freelance investigative journalist has had trouble breathing and walking for at least a week now. Kambole told journalists that a prison doctor had reportedly seen Kabendera and prescribed him medication, but the doctor did not provide lawyers or Kabendera’s family with a diagnosis.

The attack on press freedom has intensified in Tanzania under John Magufuli

Men who claimed to be police but refused to show identity papers arrested Kabendera on July 29. Police initially claimed they were investigating his citizenship, but changed track to charge him with economic crimes, for which he cannot qualify for bail.

The attacks on journalists and press freedom in Tanzania have intensified since president John Magufuli came to power.

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