Whistle-blowers charged in Tanzania

2017-08-27 05:59

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A Tanzanian court this week began hearing a case against two co-founders of a whistle-blower website who are charged with obstructing justice by refusing to reveal the identities of users who post details of suspected corrupt officials.

Micke William and Maxence Melo Mubyazi, owners of the JamiiForums site, were charged under the Cybercrimes Act.

Several people have been charged under the law, which came into effect in 2015 and is viewed by rights groups and the opposition as part of efforts by President John Magufuli’s government to limit liberties such as freedom of expression.

If convicted, William and Mubyazi could face a fine of up to R13 000 or jail, or both. They deny the charges.

A police investigator said William and Mubyazi had “intentionally and unlawfully concealed the identities” of members of the website who posted false information regarding two companies.

The accused have denied allegations by officials that the site allows users to post fabrications and seditious content. The case was adjourned until next month.

The co-owners of the website also face related cybercrimes charges in two other separate cases, including one accusing them of operating an unregistered website.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has said government should investigate corruption allegations instead of “pressurising a website to violate its users’ trust and privacy”.

Under the cybercrimes law, any person who publishes “false, deceptive, misleading or inaccurate” information on websites or social-media sites is committing a criminal offence.

More than 10 people, including university students and opposition politicians, have been charged in different court cases over the past year for insulting the president via social-media platforms.

Magufuli has won some praise from Western donors for an anticorruption drive and for cutting wasteful public spending, but opponents accuse him of undermining democracy by curbing dissent and stifling free speech. – Reuters

Read more on:    tanzania

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