Sunday, 17 February, 2019

SA journalists ‘misrepresented’ intentions for visit - Tanzania

Former Mail & Guardian Editor Angela Quintal Former Mail & Guardian Editor Angela Quintal
Melinda Barton | 09 November, 2018, 13:01

In the meantime, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation is trying to establish what has happened.

Reporters Without Borders, a pressure group, ranked Tanzania 93rd out of 180 countries worldwide in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, down 10 places from the previous year.

Quintal‚ who is the Africa Programme co-ordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists‚ had on Wednesday first sent a message from her Facebook page‚ stating that she and a colleague‚ Sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo‚ were being detained.

Mtanda said Quintal and Mumo were free to stay on in Tanzania as long as they heeded the terms of their 90-day visa.

"Officers who identified themselves as working with the Tanzanian immigration authority detained Quintal and Mumo in their hotel room in Dar-es-Salaam", CPJ said in a statement.

"It is deeply ironic that through their unjustified and abusive detention of our colleagues, Tanzanian authorities have made their work that much easier, " he said. They were allowed back to their hotel after several hours of questioning.

The pair, who work for the Committee to Protect Journalists, have since been released.

According to Mr Mtanda, the immigration spokesperson, the journalists were later briefed on what procedures to comply with when they enter Tanzania and the permit conditions to adhere to. They were eventually released by the authorities to their hotel in Dar es Salaam but their passports were withheld.

He said that "if they were intending to hold meetings with journalists, then they should have contacted the relevant authorities before they started doing those activities".

CPJ's executive director Joel Simon has called for their immediate release.

Mr Balile said conversations underlined the disappearance of a journalist Azory Gwanda.

CPJ had earlier demanded for the release of the journalists, as well as other media stakeholders.

It is also unclear whether Tanzanian authorities have Quintal's cellphone, after a number of her social media profiles were deactivated on Wednesday evening.