Media watchdog demands police action after Tanzania beating

Media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) on Friday called on the Tanzanian authorities to prosecute police filmed beating a reporter who had been covering a football match.

Silas Mbise, a sports reporter for the independent station Wapo Radio, was beaten by anti-riot police as he lay on the ground, shirtless and with his hands in the air, RSF said.

"There is no ground to justify beating up a journalist doing his job. The video footage clearly shows a disproportionate use of force," it said on Twitter.

"(The) perpetrators must be arrested and brought to justice".

The August 8 incident happened during a friendly match between Tanzanian and Ghanaian clubs at the national stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzanian police chief Simon Sirro on Thursday said Mbise had refused to obey police instructions to stay away from an area that was out of bounds.

He then pulled off his shirt and fell to the floor as the incident was being filmed, in order to gain attention, Sirro said.

The Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) and Tanzania Sports Writers Association (TASWA) issued a statement on August 11 saying the journalist had been singled out for a beating as he sought to interview the teams' coaches.

"This incident is not only harassment (of the) journalism profession but sabotage against the whole media industry," they said.

Since his election in 2015, President John Magufuli has closed several critical newspapers and rights groups have protested against the imposition of restrictive laws on freedom of expression.

RSF ranked Tanzania 93rd out of 180 countries worldwide in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, down 10 places on the previous year

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