- He is charged with "failing to register a sim card that was previously owned by another person," and "failing to report ownership of the sim card."
- "It is evident that the Tanzanian authorities do not have a case against Idris Sultan and are simply out to harass him because his humor offended them."
- In October 2019, Idris Sultan surrendered to a police station in Dar es Salaam and was interrogated.
Human rights organization Amnesty International has called on Tanzania to drop charges against prominent comedian Idris Sultan. Idris Sultan is expected to appear in court tomorrow, responding to a pair of charges. Idris Sultan was arrested in May after a video showed him laughing at a picture of Tanzanian president John Magufuli.
He is charged with “failing to register a sim card that was previously owned by another person,” and “failing to report ownership of the sim card.” After being held by the police for over a week, Idris Sultan was brought to the Kisutu court and charged. The phone number was allegedly registered in another person’s name.
Named to register the license, Innocent Maiga was also charged along with Mr. Sultan for failing to report changes to the license of a mobile phone registered in his name. The artist was released on bail after two people signed a bond of 15 million Tanzanian shillings each, his lawyer Benedict Ishabakaki told reporters.
The two are accused of committing these offenses in violation of the Electronic Communications and Postal Law. If found guilty, they will face a fine of not less than five million shillings, imprisonment for less than 12 months, or both a fine and imprisonment.
Amnesty International’s director for the East and Southern Africa region, Deprose Muchena said:
“These charges are politically motivated and must be immediately dropped. It is a travesty that Idris Sultan is being subjected to judicial persecution simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Laughing is not a crime. Criminalizing one’s humor is a new low in Tanzania’s unrelenting clampdown on freedom of expression.”
Before being taken to court, police and the artist’s attorney told reporters that he was also being questioned on allegations of cyberbullying.
Advocate Ishabakaki also told reporters that his client was arrested and questioned by police over a video clip that was circulating recently appearing to mock the Tanzanian president Magufuli’s image. However, no charges have been filed in connection with the matter.
“It is evident that the Tanzanian authorities do not have a case against Idris Sultan and are simply out to harass him because his humor offended them. The court must throw out the trumped-up charges against him.”
In October 2019, Idris Sultan surrendered to a police station in Dar es Salaam and was interrogated. According to his attorney Elijah Rioba, Idris Sultan was charged with Internet offenses sections 15 and 16, which deal with computer-generated imagery, as well as disseminating false information in it.
A prominent Tanzanian artist was ordered to surrender to the police after posting a picture on his social network with the image of President Magufuli. The two images show Magufuli’s head in the body with one image wearing a suit while sitting on the presidential chair and the other standing in a “suspender” style.