Tanzania: 'no justice' for journalist Erick Kabendera
Prominent investigative journalist pays heavy fine to get out of jail where health had deteriorated following arrest nearly seven months ago
Kabendera has worked for several UK newspapers - including Guardian, Times and i paper
‘He has already suffered so much simply for doing his job’ - Deprose Muchena
Responding to news that the Tanzanian investigative journalist Erick Kabendera has been released from jail after paying fines amounting to more than £90,000, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s East and Southern Africa Director, said:
“While it is welcome news that Kabendera is out of prison close to seven months later, it is outrageous that he had to pay such a hefty fine to gain his freedom after having been unjustly jailed for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
“Kabendera’s mother died while he was in custody shortly after she was filmed pleading with President John Magufuli to let her son free. He has already suffered so much simply for doing his job and should have been released unconditionally. There is absolutely no justice in what transpired in the Dar es Salaam court today.
“Tanzania must stop misusing laws to violate people’s rights to liberty, freedom of expression and information, peaceful assembly and association.
“The country must publicly commit to ensuring that everyone can freely exercise all their human rights and stop the politically-motivated persecution of dissidents and journalists like Erick Kabendera.”
Health suffered in jail
The Tanzanian court sentenced Kabendera - who has worked for a number of British newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times and the i paper - to a three-month jail term or the option of a fine, equivalent to about £57,000 on two counts of failure to pay tax, and another £33,000 for money laundering.
Last October, Kabendera petitioned Tanzania’s Director of Public Prosecution to initiate a plea-bargain process, a move Amnesty believes was borne out of desperation to end his suffering at Segerea Prison. His lawyer said his health had deteriorated dramatically since he was incarcerated. He developed breathing difficulties and suffered paralysis in his right foot.