Tanzanian police arrest journalist

Human rights organizations are demanding the immediate release of a  Tanzanian journalist, Sitta Tumma.

Tumma  was arrested on August 8 while covering an opposition campaign rally in the Tarime district of northern Tanzania ahead of a local authority by-election. The journalist is a reporter and regional bureau chief for the privately owned Tanzania Daima newspaper. Independent eye-witnesses confirm that he was assaulted by police officers during his arrest and detention  at a police station in Tarime.

Tanzanian police officers are charging Tumma for unlawful assembly claiming he was a participant in an illegal opposition rally and meeting that the police had ordered  to disperse.

Tumma denied the allegations saying  he was only documenting the protests and was taking pictures of officers using tear gas to disperse the crowd and arresting people, including opposition member of parliament Esther Matiko, when he noticed three anti-riot police officers following him. He said the police arrested him despite identifying himself as a journalist covering the protests.

“I was taken to a waiting police truck where two police officers kicked me, causing injury to my back, and they tried to take away my camera, which I refused to let go,” he told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) during an interview.

A Tanzanian police commander, Henry Mwaibambe denied that Tumma was targeted for arrest because he was a journalist. He said police are going to arraign those arrested during the protest in court on charges of illegal assembly, according to an August 10 report by IPP Media. 

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