Missing Tanzanian Journalist Azory Gwanda makes global list of top 10 press freedom cases

Dar es Salaam. Missing Tanzanian Journalist Azory Gwanda has made the list of top “10 Most Urgent” cases by a world press freedom coalition.

The Journalist who has not been accounted for since November 2017 has been included in the May press freedom list by One Free Press Coalition.

The coalition is a united group of over 30 pre-eminent editors and publishers including Reuters, Quartz, The Financial Times, India Today, TIME, and Washington Post among others.

The organisations use their global reach to bring attention to some of the most concerning cases of journalists under threat.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women's Media Foundation are also partners in the coalition.

Mr Gwanda is believed to have been taken away by security agents at the height of a mop up operation in the coastal district of Kibiti where mysterious extrajudicial killings were taking place.   

By making the latest “10 Most Urgent” list of press freedom cases, the One Free Press Coalition is raising the spotlight on Mr Gwanda to press authorities to account for his whereabouts. The list is of Journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases are seeking justice.

The Tanzanian journalist was a correspondent with Mwananchi Communications Limited when he was taken away in unclear circumstance. He had been reporting cases of mysterious killings in Kibiti in the months leading up to his disappearance. The government claims to be investigating his case and that of other reported missing individuals but there have not been any substantive findings on his whereabouts.

There is at present pressure from rights activists, journalists and media organisations like the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calling on Tanzanian authorities to make Gwanda’s case a priority and to provide answers about his fate with hashtags #WhereIsAzory and #MrudisheniAzory trending on social media. His case has lately featured in public forums on civil rights, and in 2018 won the “Daudi Mwangosi Prize” in absentia to honour his work and courage. The prize by Union of Tanzania Press Clubs is in remembrance of a TV reporter who was killed by police while covering a public protest in Iringa region, in September 2012. 

Other journalists in the Coalition’s list include Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters’ journalists who were imprisoned in Myanmar under the Official Secrets Act following their investigation into a security force massacre of Rohingya men and boys in western Rakhine State. The Myanmar Supreme Court recently upheld their convictions.

Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered last year at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul is another popular case in the list. Despite findings from the CIA that point to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, there has been no independent criminal investigation.