Azory Gwanda, a freelance journalist who contributed to the Mwananchi Communications Limited and Citizen Newspapers, has been missing since November 21. On that day, Gwanda left home telling his wife, Anna Pinoni, that he had “an impromptu journey” and would be back in a day or two. Mrs Pinoni told the media that she “became alarmed after he had failed to return home and all his numbers could not be reached since the day he departed.”
According to reports, Gwanda’s disappearance could be linked to his investigations about attacks in Kibiti district in Pwani Province, which surrounds Tanzania’s capital city Dar es Salaam. His disappearance came amid the deterioration of press freedom in Tanzania, where journalists faced media shutdowns, restrictive regulations and arbitrary arrests in recent years.
The IFJ is alarmed by the increasing media clampdown against journalists in Tanzania. A year and a half after Gwanda’s disappearance, the authorities are failing to conduct a credible investigation to clarify what happened to our colleague. In July 2018, the Home Affairs Minister even suggested that the files related to his case could be closed soon, The Citizen reported.
The IFJ said: “We urge the government to undertake all the necessary measures to find Azory Gwanda and bring him back safe. It is its obligation and responsibility to ensure the protection of journalists. Today we want to assure the Tanzanian authorities that we will not stop pushing them until we get answers on what happened to Gwanda.”