Tanzanian Reporter Fights for Free Press After Arrests, Threats
Maxence Melo of Tanzania did not set out to be a journalist.
In 2006, he launched a website called Jamii Forums to give young people a place to speak openly and to fight corruption.
But the effects of the website and the reaction of the Tanzanian government has been anything but simple. Melo has gone to court 137 times in the past three years, been arrested twice and spent 14 nights in jail.
"It's the price we pay for these kinds of...freedoms," he told VOA.
Last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists presented its International Press Freedom Award to Maxence Melo. He was among journalists from Brazil, India and Nicaragua who received the award.
Jamii Forums is mostly published in Swahili and has readers in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. It became famous in 2007 with a story about corruption in the Central Bank of Tanzania. Millions of dollars were missing from the bank.
Melo said that was the first time he and the website felt pressured by Tanzanian officials. They wanted to know who was operating the site.
In 2008, the website published stories that uncovered corruption involving deals with power companies. The stories led to the resignation of the prime minister and the dismissal of the cabinet. Since then, Melo said, government officials watch him very closely.
Melo said that government officials, members of parliament and opposition party members go to the website to communicate with its users. He said the anger he receives from those in power is not about misreporting the news; it is about reporting things officials do not like.
No fake news
"No one's (making charges of) any kind of false information," Melo said. "We are being (attacked) for not cooperating...to reveal our sources of information."
The environment for Tanzanian media became even more dangerous in 2015 when the country enacted the Cyber Crimes Act. The law makes it a crime to repeat information that is false, misleading or inaccurate. It has been used to bring legal actions against news websites like Jamii Forums.
"It's not only used against journalists...it's used against critical voices. It's used against almost everyone," Melo said.
Additional laws have restricted journalists' ability to see governmental information, he said.
Fighting for press freedom
Still, Melo has decided to continue being a journalist in his home country.
"Tanzania has been a good example in Africa," he said. "We have been like ambassadors of change in Africa. And we have gone through this kind of challenging time for almost five years of lots of challenges to journalists — to critical voices in Tanzania."
Maxence Melo has disputed parts of the Cyber Crimes Act in court without success, but says he is not giving up.
"We have room to challenge these laws. I know it comes at a huge price. As for me, I've tried my best," he said.
I'm Susan Shand.
1.As for 至于
As for me, I decidedly have something to say about the individual.
2.press freedom 新闻自由
New proposals would begin to erode the last bastion of press freedom in the country.
3.prime minister 首相
The resignation of the prime minister will cause much confusion.
4.set out 出发；开始
He has achieved what he set out to do three years ago
5.We have room to challenge these laws.
have room to 有...的空间
Take the books off the table so that we have room to eat.
Just keep the crowd back so I have room to move.
6.I know it comes at a huge price.
a huge price 高代价
You will for surrender to pay a huge price.
We have to pay a huge price in terms of damaging our investor confidence& both domestic and foreign.
坦桑尼亚的Maxence Melo起初并没有打算成为一名记者 。
2006年，他创办了一个名为Jamii forum的网站，为年轻人提供公开发言和打击腐败的平台 。
但该网站的影响和坦桑尼亚政府的反应绝非易事 。在过去三年里，Melo被起诉过137次，被逮捕两次，在监狱过夜14次 。
上个月，保护记者委员会将国际新闻自由奖授予Maxence Melo 。他是获得该奖项的巴西、印度和尼加拉瓜记者之一 。
Jamii论坛主要使用斯瓦希里语，在坦桑尼亚、肯尼亚和乌干达拥有大量读者 。2007年，它因披露坦桑尼亚中央银行腐败的新闻出名 。该银行的数百万美元不翼而飞 。
Melo表示，这是他和网站第一次受到坦桑尼亚官员的压力 。他们想知道是谁在运营这家网站 。
2008年，该网站发表了一些报道，揭露了与电力公司交易的腐败行为 。这些事件导致首相辞职以及内阁解散 。Melo表示，从那以后，政府官员一直密切监视他 。
Melo说，政府官员、议会成员和反对党成员都访问该网站与用户交流 。他说，他从当权者那里得到的愤怒不是关于误报新闻；而是关于报道官员们厌恶的新闻 。
“没有人(指控)任何类型的虚假信息，”Melo说道 。“我们因不配合透露消息的来源而受到攻击…… 。”
2015年，坦桑尼亚颁布了《网络犯罪法》(Cyber Crimes Act)，该国媒体的生存环境变得更加危险 。法律规定，重复虚假、误导或不准确的信息为犯罪行为 。该法律被用来对Jamii论坛等新闻网站提起法律诉讼 。
Melo表示，“这不仅被用来对付记者……还被用来反对批评的声音 。几乎所有人都难逃于此 。”
“坦桑尼亚是非洲的一个典型，”他说 。“我们就像非洲的变革大使 。我们已经经历了这一充满挑战的时期，近五年的时间里，我们遇到了许多针对记者的挑战，也遇到了坦桑尼亚的批评声音 。”
“我们有挑战这些法律的空间 。我知道这需要付出巨大的代价 。至于我，我当拼尽全力 。”