The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today urged authorities in Tanzania to end the inhumane treatment of jailed journalist Erick Kabendera and grant him bail on medical grounds.
Kabendera, a freelance journalist who has written for several publications around the world, was arrested in Dar es Salaam in July 2019. He has now spent six months behind bars on charges of money laundering and financial crimes, which are non-bailable offences in Tanzania.
Over the past half year his case has been adjourned by the courts 13 times, during which period Kabendera’s attorney has repeatedly drawn attention to his client’s deteriorating health and stressed his need for urgent medical attention.
Despite evidence that Kabendera’s condition had worsened to the point that he could not walk properly, the court has repeatedly refused permission for a medical evaluation. Further attempts to secure a plea bargain which would allow him to be released for treatment have also been rejected.
“This appalling and inhumane situation has gone on long enough”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “We call on the Tanzanian authorities to immediately allow Erick Kabendera to be released on bail so that he can access medical assistance.”
The most recent postponement came on January 27 when state prosecutors again successfully petitioned for more time to investigate. The next hearing will be held on February 10, 2020.
IPI has previously taken up Kabendera’s case with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).
Kabendera, who has written for The Guardian and The Times newspapers, was a frequent critic of the government, leading to accusations that the non-bailable charges against him are part of a targeted attempt by the government to silence him.
Press freedom in Tanzania under the government of President John Magufuli has suffered a huge backslide in recent years.