General News

Sanef calls on Tanzania to release passports of journalists

Date: Nov 8, 2018

The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has called on the Tanzanian authorities to release the passports of South African journalist Angela Quintal and her Kenyan colleague Muthoki Mumo, who were detained in that country Wednesday night.

This comes after the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) confirmed that Quintal and Mumo are safe and back at their hotel after they were detained and released by Tanzanian authorities.

It’s alleged that their belongings were searched and that Tanzanian authorities had taken charge of their social media accounts.

Dirco says it’s still trying to establish the reasons for their detention.

Sanef Chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase says, “We have spoken to both Dirco and also the family members, so what we can confirm is that Angela Quintal and her colleague have since been released from detention. But they’re not yet free and that’s what we need to emphasize because at the moment they still don’t have their passports, which actually means that their movement is actually restricted. And we’re appealing to the Tanzanian authorities to release their

In March this year,  Tanzania’s communications regulator gave bloggers two weeks to register their platforms under strict new online content rules, amid concerns that the government is cracking down on internet users.

Regulations passed in March make it mandatory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as YouTube TV channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a license.

Digital activists said the move was part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was elected in 2015.

“All online content providers are required to complete the application process before 5 May 2018,” the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) said in a statement. The process was opened on Saturday.

Applicants have to provide details of shareholders, share capital, owners’ citizenship, staff qualification and training programs, and a tax clearance certificate.

“The new regulations seek to violate user privacy by revealing details of anonymous whistleblowers to authorities,” said Maxence Melo, who runs a popular social media website, JamiiForums, and has been enmeshed in a court battle for months to keep the site online.

Bloggers who fail to comply with the new rules could be fined at least 5 million shillings ($2,200), jailed for a minimum 12 months, or both. – Additional reporting by Reuters


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