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Tanzania: Govt Censures Distortion On Trio’s Arrest

  • Issues stern warning to inciters

TANZANIA : THE government has censured fabrication of inaccurate information about recent arrests of three criminal suspects in the country.

A detailed statement released on Wednesday and signed by the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye said that the three individuals in question were arrested by the Police for making specific public threats of a serious criminal nature, which include calling for the violent overthrow of the government.

The minister insisted that no one whatsoever has been arrested in the country for criticising development project, plan, programme or policy.

The government came out to respond to sweeping statements being raised by some of organisations – local and international with factual inaccuracies and gross misrepresentation of facts about the recent arrests of three individuals.

“It has come to my attention that some organisations – local and international – have been issuing statements with factual inaccuracies and gross misrepresentation of facts about the recent arrests of three individuals in Tanzania, alleged to be involved in criminal conduct,” said Minister Nape in the statement.

He adds, “The sweeping statements on the arrests have mixed up two separate things: the national debate that is currently openly taking place in Tanzania on proposed port investments on the one hand and a rule of law issue, on the other.”

The minister said in the statement that deliberate falsification of information about the actual circumstances in the arrests of the criminal suspects calls into question the real motive and credibility of the organisations behind the statements.

“One of the more recent statements from an international rights group has resorted to a malicious distortion of facts by erroneously claiming that the suspects were arrested “simply for criticising a port deal between Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”

“The truth is that no one whatsoever has been arrested in Tanzania, nor, will one be arrested for simply criticising the port deal or any other government project, plan, programme or policy for that matter.

“The three individuals in question were arrested by the Police for making specific public threats of a serious criminal nature, which include calling for the violent overthrow of the government,” Nape said.

The minister further said that the suspects, some of whom publicly sought to incite citizens to bear arms against the Tanzania Police Force (TPF), were apprehended to send a strong message to deter any offenders from committing criminal offences.

“The arrests do not in any way restrict freedom of expression in Tanzania, but are part of the enforcement of the law to prevent possible social unrest that may result from calls for a rebellion against a democratically-elected government,” he said.

Mr Nape said since coming into office in March 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s government has expanded the democratic and civic space in Tanzania by reversing a ban on public rallies for political parties, lifting the suspension of several newspapers and online TVs and broadening freedom of expression.

“To this effect, individuals, groups, civil society, members of the academia, the media, clerics, political parties and institutions continue to freely discuss national issues and criticise the government’s position without any official intimidation or arrests.

“Opposition parties are currently freely holding public rallies across the country to criticise the port deal and other government policies, something they were not able to do just a few years ago before President Samia’s administration came to power,” pointed out Minister Nape.

He said the government will continue to uphold freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and allow a vibrant public debate both offline and online – about national development projects and any other issues of public interest.

“However, rights and freedoms also come with responsibilities to others and require all of us to abide by the law and refrain from criminally dangerous and reckless rhetoric.

This government remains fully committed to democracy and the rule of law, but will not make any compromises against breaches of law and order that may jeopardise the peace, national unity, security and safety of Tanzania that we all cherish.”

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