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Tanzania2 December 2004

Zanzibar authorities continue to harass independent weekly after one year

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the action of the authorities on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar in continuing to harass the privately-owned weekly Dira, which has been prevented from publishing for the past 12 months.

In a 24 November ruling, the Zanzibar high court made no ruling on the Zanzibar government’s claim that Dira violated press ethics - the reason given for closing the newspaper a year ago - but said it could not resume publishing because it was not properly registered. The court did, however, leave a door open for Dira by suggesting it could re-apply for an operating licence

"The courts took a year to suggest the Zanzibar government was wrong and the newspaper did not break any journalistic rules, but to save face, they are now making it clear a bureaucratic hurdle," Reporters Without Borders said. "We call on the Zanzibar authorities to abandon this battle against the island’s only independent newspaper and to let it reappear after being silenced for a year."

Dira’s management has said it will apply for a new licence and, if refused, it will refer the case to an appeal court.

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