Tanzania: The Arrest of Jamii Forums Founder and the Cybercrime Law

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The police in Tanzania has arrested Maxence Melo, the co-founder of the Jamii Forums, a Tanzanian whistle-blowing website, credited for, amongst others, exposing corruption in Tanzania. Mr Melo, has been charged with obstructing an investigation, under the new cybercrime law.   It is alleged that the accused refused to provide to the police details of people who post on the site; an offence under the cybercrime law.

While some labelled the cybercrime law controversial and a serious breach of the freedom of speech, the government defends the law and insists that such a law is necessary to stop the spread of lies, sedition and eradicate pornographic material online.

The enforcement of the law did not come without any casualties. One very active NGO in Tanzania, The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), has put on hold their $500m aid to Tanzania in response to the enforcement of the controversial law.

Mr Melo has been sent to Keko Prison in Dar Es Salam after his bail hearing was postponed until Monday.

While the government has expressed its commitment to stop the spread of lies, sedition and eradicate pornographic material online, through the cybercrime law, opponents have argued that the law encroaches on individual rights. It does not help that the website, Jamii Forums, has been behind exposures of many corruptions in Tanzania, which has led to the resignation of many political mahoganies and juggernauts in the country.

What do you think about the arrest of Maxence Melo and the new cybercrime law? Should the law be kept, modified or scrapped? How and why? Please share your views.