The United States on Friday urged Tanzania to safeguard the rights of journalists and civil society, voicing concern over a growing crackdown on media, activists and the gay community.
Two press freedom advocates were taken in for questioning and released Thursday, while a powerful Dar es Salaam official last week vowed to track down people suspected of engaging in homosexuality -- illegal in Tanzania.
"The United States government is deeply concerned over escalating attacks and legislative actions by the Government of Tanzania that violate civil liberties and human rights, creating an atmosphere of violence, intimidation and discrimination," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
"The deteriorating state of human rights and rule of law in Tanzania inhibits development, economic prosperity, peace and security," she said.
"We call on Tanzanian authorities to act decisively to safeguard the rights of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, journalists, health workers, political activists and all people," in accordance with local and international law, she said.
She added that the United States was "troubled" by arrests and harassment of the LGBT community.
The United States has had warm relations with Tanzania, which has received aid under the Millennium Challenge Corporation which is only eligible to countries that respect democratic norms.