President Kikwete: Uphold Tanzania's Freedom of Press, Internet, Inquiry, and Dissent
This petition had 2,678 supporters
Draconian new censorship laws will repress political freedom, academic inquiry, conservation, and the free flow of ideas in Tanzania. Please urge President Kikwete not to sign these into law!
- A “Statistics Bill” makes it illegal to disseminate information that does not agree with the government’s own Bureau of Statistics. Academics, conservationists, and human rights activists could face jail time for publishing anything not approved or officially released by the government.
- The “Cybercrimes Act” makes it a crime to share information that is “deceptive, misleading or inaccurate,” even to receive such information.
- Other bills that would further repress freedoms and give the government excessive power are also being considered.
Human rights and press groups in Tanzania have protested. The Nation newspaper stated, “Tanzania could become one of the most hostile territories for publishing firms, researchers and academicians.”
The effect of these laws will be devastating for reporting on human rights, controlling wildlife crime, conservation research, and spreading education and awareness among Tanzanians.
Under these laws, and others that are being considered, government officials can silence whoever disagrees with them. There would be little point in conducting research, surveys, and polls because publishing information could be judged a crime.
The proposed laws can cripple the work of foreign NGO’s, especially those working in human rights and conservation. But they will have a disproportionate effect on Tanzanians themselves, including academics, researchers, and students who need to disseminate their work. They will discourage young people from pursuing academic and media careers. Increased censorship is a huge step backward for Tanzania’s people and its fragile democracy. With these laws, Tanzania is enter a new and dangerous phase.
The Constitution of Tanzania and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protect freedom of speech, and for good reason. It is not only necessary for economic growth and intellectual progress, it is a basic human right. Without the free flow of ideas, people cannot grow and prosper.
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Contact a Tanzanian Embassy or Consulate in your country.
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