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Tanzania deports CIPESA boss back to Uganda

Dr Wairagala Wakabi

Dr Wairagala Wakabi

Dr Wairagala Wakabi the executive director, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has been deported from Tanzania. 

Wakabi, an experienced ICT specialist, researcher and media trainer was detained upon arrival at the Julius Nyerere International airport in Dar es Salam, Tanzania on Thursday.

According to a release by CIPESA, although immigration authorities in Tanzania reportedly refused to divulge the basis of his arrest, it is believed that Wakabi was being questioned in relation to his work with CIPESA, which has consistently published reports on internet freedoms in Africa.

Wakabi had been invited to participate in the annual commemoration of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders’ Day hosted by the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) on April 28, under the theme “Claiming and Protecting Online Civic Space for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Tanzania”. 

The event was to be preceded by a two-day workshop aimed at engaging civil society organizations, online journalists and human rights activists on how to safely use online platforms for promotion and protection of human rights.    

According to CIPESA, lawyers at the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders were reportedly denied access to Wakabi.

“We are currently at the airport following the matter. They have denied us access to him. We strongly condemned this untimely and unnecessary detention of our guest from our neighbouring country Uganda. We call upon all members of the East African Community (EAC) to condemn this tendency of disturbing citizens of EAC when travelling within the sub-region,” stated Onesmo Olengurumwa, the THRDC national coordinator is quoted by CIPESA in Tuesday's statement.

CIPESA is among the organisations nominated by THRDC to receive an award for its regional work in promoting human rights online to be handed out during the commemoration. However, after hours of interrogation, CIPESA says their director was deported back to Uganda.

“After hours of interrogation, Dr Wakabi has been deported back to Uganda this [Thursday] evening. However, lawyers remained unable to establish the basis of the detention and deportation. They report that authorities denied him entry into Tanzania on grounds of “national interest”.

In one of its reports on digital space and the protection of freedoms, CIPESA names Tanzania among nations that have proliferated restrictive policies, laws and regulations curtailing freedoms. In 2018, CIPESA authored a news story titled; Unmasking digital security threats facing human rights defenders in Uganda and Tanzania.

It has however faulted some countries on internet freedom in other reports.

“Governments often draft cybercrime, ICT and other laws in vague and overly broad terms and selectively apply provisions to persecute activists and control the online and offline activities of the media and CSOs, examples are Kenya and Tanzania.  

The report says recent concerning trends include mandatory registration of online content creators, including bloggers, online discussion forums, online TV and other social media users, giving examples like Tanzania and Uganda who are imposing prohibitive license fees and onerous responsibilities on online content creators to monitor content and ensure that all content complies with the law.


0 #1 Lakwena 2019-04-26 12:29
At this rate of arrests, detentions and deportations and counter arrests, detentions and deportation of member states citizens; isn't the EAC falling apart?

Just asking

The ambivalent relations between and among the EAC member states are becoming unsustainable.

E.g., the relationship between Uganda and Rwanda over and/or because of arrests and deportations has fallen apart.

That between Burindi and Rwanda has fallen apart long time ago.

Now this one (Dr Wairagala Wakabi); makes for a bad relationship between Uganda and Tanzania.
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+2 #2 Lakwena 2019-04-26 12:41
In other words, if it were not because of Amin and his buffoonery and dictatorship, the 1st EAC was the most productive and beneficial to the citizens of the members states (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda).

For purposes of propaganda and fat job opportunities for political henchmen and women; the current EAC is fake and/or dishonest.

It is a contraption of brutal, failed, corrupt and bankrupt member states like e.g., Burundi, Rwanda South Sudan and Uganda.

It became an organization for dictators like Mr. M7 and Kagame to masquerade their fake democratic credentials and hegemonic self-importance. Hence the EAC is a white elephant, unproductive and currently bankrupt characterized by shaky relationships.

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+2 #3 Jonathan Luyirika 2019-04-26 14:51
Detention and deportation of Wakabi back to the Pearl of Africa from Tanzania (both countries are members of East African community) is a clear evidence there will never be free movement of goods and people.It's rare for a member of European Union to arrest and deport a citizen of another member state who has not committed any serious crime.

In East African community ....things are different .If you criticize the ruling clan they make that you pay back in good currenc
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0 #4 Samuel 2019-04-27 18:50
Before we talk of east African integration it must be clear if in the first case have we achieved it, besides each country still protects their interests and any citizen will act based on their interests and law, Uganda would do the same thank God he was not physically tortured that would be adorable application in Uganda that downloads automatically and would be deported in bad shape
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0 #5 Jomo 2019-04-27 19:49
The East African Community - and hopeful progress to Federation - is still, and might remain for long, a pipe dream in our heads!
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0 #6 rubangakene 2019-04-29 18:14
Why go to Tanzania to sort out their problem if you can't sort out your own problems.

Who got rid of Idi Amin in the first place, eh? Tanzanians are more politically aware and do not waste time in solving problems through colonial type courts; they call a spade a spade!

If you steal you lose your job and pay. HAPA NI KAZI TUU BWANA and be warned; "Usiile maali ya umwa" (Do not steal from the peoples' purse).
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