Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera on Monday appeared in court but the hearing of his case couldn’t commence after the prosecution told the presiding magistrate that they were yet to complete investigations.
The Kisutu magistrate court set Friday, August 30, as the next court appearance.
The freelancer journalist, who was arrested on July 29, is facing three counts of economic crimes including assisting an organised crime racket, money laundering, and failing to pay millions of dollars in tax, all between January 2015 and July 2019.
Persons charged with the crimes can’t be granted bail as the charges are considered ‘serious offences.’
Days before his arraignment, authorities reviewed the journos charges severally.
Moments after Kabendera’s arrest, the police told the press that they were investigating his citizenship status. His lawyer later said he was facing sedition charges only to be charged with economic crimes.
The United States, United Kingdom and Canada have condemned irregular arrest, detention and indictment of journalist Erick Kabendera by Tanzanian authorities.
In a joint statement on August 9, the British High Commission and the US Embassy in Tanzania spoke out against the corrosion of due process in Tanzania, particularly on Kabendera’s case.
“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 access to a lawyer in the early stages of his detention, contrary to the Criminal Procedures Act.
“We urge the Government of Tanzania to guarantee due process to each of its citizens, which it has recognized as a basic human right as a signatory to multiple UN Human Rights Conventions. among them the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, ” the statement read.
— UK in Tanzania (@UKinTanzania) August 9, 2019
Last week, Canada, citing the recent predicaments of Kabendera, also called for a fair legal process for all citizens.
“Canada echoes the UK and US in expressing concern over due process in Tanzania and particularly the case of journalist Erick Kabendera. A fair and transparent legal process for all citizens matters, ” the embassy said in a tweet.
Canada echoes the UK and US in expressing concern over due process in Tanzania and particularly the case of journalist Erick Kabendera. A fair and transparent legal process for all citizens matters.#ErickKabendera #defendmediafreedom" https://t.co/BMyui10s3n
— High Comm. of Canada (@CanadaTanzania) August 13, 2019
Ever since Magufuli took office, the freelancer journalist has written about being harassed and stalked by government operatives.
Human rights groups and netizens across social media platforms continue to call for the release of Kabendera using the hashtag #FreeErickKabendera.