Respect due process, Tanzania urged

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Britain and the United States urged Tanzania to guarantee due process of law for a journalist arrested on charges his lawyer and rights groups called politically motivated.

Erick Kabendera was charged with money laundering, tax evasion and leading organised crime. He was arrested the previous week over what police said were issues concerning his citizenship.

Press freedom in Tanzania has deteriorated since President John Magufuli was elected in 2015, rights groups say. His administration shut down newspapers, arrested opposition leaders and activists and restricted political rallies.  Government rejects charges its policies are authoritarian.

“The irregular handling of the arrest, detention and indictment of investigative journalist Erick Kabendera, including him denied access to a lawyer in the early stages of his detention, is contrary to the Criminal Procedures Act,” the US and British said in a joint statement.

Kabendera (39) writes for national and international publications, including The Guardian and The Times of London. He published a story last month in regional newspaper The East African about purported internal divisions within the ruling party before the 2020 presidential election.

Questioning since his arrest indicated it and his prosecution are linked to his work as a journalist, Kabendera’s lawyer, Jebra Kambole, said.

The case is adjourned until August. 19, when it will come up for mention. Money laundering is not a bailable offence.