Kabendera, a well-known freelance journalist who works for several local and international media, was forcibly taken from his home by six police officers. Police sources claimed the arrest was for questioning over his citizenship. However, local and international press freedom bodies have raised doubts about the real reasons for his detention.
At first, the police confirmed his detention but didn’t say where he was being held. Erick's wife told the IFJ that she had been going around various police stations in an attempt to visit her husband to no avail and that the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) helped to identify where he is. Kabendera is being held at Kilwa Road police station temporarily while procedures with the immigration department are ongoing.
One of the last articles written by Kabendera criticized Magufuli’s government for going against ‘dissenters’. Some Tanzanians used the hashtag #FreeErickKabendera on social media to condemn the journalists’ arrest and denouncing that it’s not the first time that authorities arrest government critics on the same grounds.
In addition, Tanzanian journalist Azory Gwanda has been missing for over 600 days and authorities have not been able yet to determine if he’s alive or dead.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We are seriously concerned over the press freedom situation in Tanzania, where journalists faced media shutdowns, restrictive regulations and arbitrary arrests in recent years. We urge the authorities to release our colleague Kabendera and clarify the reasons for his arrest”.
[UPDATE, 5TH AUGUST] On this day a Tanzanian court charged Erick Kabendera with organised crime and financial offences. As a consequence, the journalist will remain in detention.