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TANZANIA: Amnesty Int’l, HRW accuse Tanzanian govt of promoting repression, dissent



President John Magufuli

The John Magufuli-led Tanzanian government has been accused of increasingly repressing political dissent as censorship mounts in the country.

In two separate reports issued on Monday, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said since Magufuli’s election in 2015, Tanzania has implemented laws that stifle independent journalism and severely restrict the activities of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and opposition parties.

The reports also added that civil society activism and public discussions on human rights-related issues have also been suppressed, while the authorities’ “regressive” policies have restricted the playing field for those seeking to challenge the ruling party.

“With elections around the corner, people don’t feel that they can comment honestly,” said Jehanne Henry, HRW’s East Africa Director, referring to Tanzania’s polls slated for next year.

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“Human rights activists are restrained from pushing for accountability for disappearances and other human rights abuses,” she told Al Jazeera.

The rights group also added that since July 2016, President Magufuli announced a blanket ban on political activities until 2020. The ban has been selectively applied against opposition politicians, several of whom have been arrested on trumped-up charges, the rights groups said.

“The restrictions on political parties mean that they cannot do their work,” Wangwe said. “Parties are banned from campaigning outside their own constituencies.”

Both Amnesty and HRW called on the Tanzanian government to “immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against journalists and politicians brought simply for exercising the rights to freedom of expression and association”.

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