UK High Commission in Tanzania concerned over ‘erosion of due process’ following arrest of journalist who has written for British newspapers

Erick Kabendera
Erick Kabendera. Photo: Amnesty International

The British High Commission and American Embassy in Tanzania are continuing to monitor the case of journalist Erick Kabendera who has been charged with leading organised crime, tax evasion and money laundering.

Mr Kavendera has written for British newspapers including The Guardian, The Times and The i as well as being a regular contributer to The EastAfrican, The Africa Report, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Africa Confidential and the global development news agency Inter Press Service.

The investigative reporter has been held at a maximum security prison in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, for three weeks following his arrest at home by plain clothes officers.

He had been expected to be able to enter a plea to allegations against him at a court hearing on Monday, but proceedings were delayed until 30 August after prosecutors told the court that their inquiries were not yet complete.

A joint statement of concern issued by the British and US diplomatic missions in Tanzania, says they are “deeply concerned about the steady erosion of due process in Tanzania, as evidenced by the ever more frequent resort to lengthy pre-trial detentions and shifting charges by its justice system.”

“We are particularly concerned about a recent case – the irregular handling of the arrest, detention and indictment of investigative journalist Erick Kabendera, including the fact that he was denied a lawyer in the early stages of his detention, contrary to the Criminal Procedures Act,” it continues.

“We urge the Government of Tanzania to guarantee due process to each of each citizens, which it has recognised as a basic human right as signatory to multiple UN Human Rights Conventions, among them the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights,” the statement concludes.

The arrest has sparked international outrage with Amnesty International describing the charges as “fabricated”, “politically-motivated” and calling the proceedings against him a “judicial charade”.

Elected on an anti-corruption ticket, Tanzania’s president John Magufuli has been accused of taking the country down an increasingly authoritarian path. Recent articles written by Mr Kabendera prior to his arrest examined divisions in Mr Magufuli’s ruling party.

The authorities have also targeted his family, confiscating his wife’s passport.

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