You Can’t ‘Insult’ A President on Facebook With The Tanzanian Cybercrime Law

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There have been lots of criticisms from politicians, social media practitioners, donors and human rights activists against the Tanzanian Cybercrime law.

If you have plans of demeaning the Tanzanian President’s works or achievements especially on social media, you better have a rethink. As it stands, a Tanzanian law has made it illegal to insult the President on Facebook or any social media platform.

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In May 2015, The Tanzanian presidency passed into law the cybercrime bill which was passed in April 2015. The Cybercrime act of 2015 criminalizes and penalizes a number of cyber activities, including; publishing false information, pornography, cyber bullying, online impersonation, electronic production of racist and xenophobic content, spam, illegal interception of communications, etc.

The intricate thing about the Tanzanian Cybercrime law is that it complicates the work of journalists who might not have first hand information of events and have to rely on third party analysis.

This brings us to the present unfortunate situation of a Tanzanian who have fallen into the trap. Isaac Habakuk Emily, an internet guru from the Arusha region in the north of Tanzania, appeared in court on April 15, 2016 on charges of ”insulting” the country’s president, John Magufuli. The cyber citizen was said to have written something contrary to a section of the cybercrime act. To be specific, Emily made statements allegedly contrary to Section 16, No. 14 of the Cybercrime act. It states that;



“Any person who publishes information, data or facts presented in a picture, text, symbol or any other form in a computer system where such information, data or fact is false, deceptive, misleading or inaccurate commits an offence, and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not less than three million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to both.”

Emily allegedly posted a controversial Facebook message about the country’s president, John Magufuli, after he made a surprise live call to a TV’s  current affairs program called ‘360’. The president had thanked the presenters of the show and expressed his admiration of the show.

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However, Emily reportedly took to Facebook to post; Theatrics in politics [referring to the live call], how come you compare this imbecile [Magufuli] to Nyerere [Mwalimu Nyerere, Tanzania’s beloved first president]?

Though it has not been completely ascertained if he was referring to the President or the show, the case continues.

There have been lots of criticisms from politicians, social media practitioners, donors and human rights activists against the Tanzanian Cybercrime law. It is said that the bill was pushed through parliament without much deliberation.