UPDATE FROM CPJ on AUGUST 5—Tanzanian officials change charges against Erick Kabendera.
Erick Kabendera Detained by Police in Tanzania
JULY 31, 2019—The Committee to Protect Journalists has alerted the world to the arrest in Tanzania of journalist Erick Kabendera, who works from Dar es Salam.
Board members of the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) rapidly responded with a consensus that we post our own support of Erick and of the CPJ’s efforts on his behalf.
Erick is a founding member of the IARJ—helping to create our nonprofit during a 2012 global gathering of religion writers in northern Italy. Our active members respect Erick especially for his global efforts to promote the best practices in our profession.
More recently, Erick participated in two of our global forums about the challenges of reporting on religion:
- Why Does the IARJ Matter in Today’s World? In this forum, Erick wrote: “The IARJ brings solidarity among reporters interested in covering religion issues across the world. … Collectively, we can draw on the association to learn about each other’s experience in efforts to accurately understand global religion with all of its complex dynamics.”
- What News Stories Are Under-Reported? In this forum, Erick wrote: “There are growing interfaith tensions across the world and a rise in intolerance. … Journalists play a role in bringing honest stories about the experiences of diverse religious communities into the public square.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Report on Erick Kabendera’s Arrest
THE CPJ REPORT begins …
Nairobi, July 30, 2019—The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Tanzanian authorities to immediately release freelance journalist Erick Kabendera, whom police said is being investigated over his citizenship status.
Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa said at a press conference today that Kabendera was in custody and that police arrested him after the journalist failed to obey a summons. Mambosasa said that Kabendera was being questioned about his citizenship and that police were working with immigration officials. Police yesterday denied knowledge of Kabendera’s case after the journalist was taken from his home by a group of men who refused to identify themselves, according to reports and CPJ research.
One of the journalist’s relatives, who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns, said that the citizenship investigation was surprising because authorities had investigated his status before and “cleared him.” In 2013 authorities terminated a similar investigation into the journalist and his parents, calling it “ill-advised” and stating that the family’s citizenship was not questionable, according to a report by the privately-owned publication, The Citizen. In a blog post, Kabendera linked the 2013 investigation to attempts to muzzle him. The Citizen reported last year on several cases of authorities investigating the citizenship of government critics.