LHRC, MCT and THRDC file a case at EACJ to challenge Media Services Act 2016
The Legal and Human Rights Centre, Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) and Tanzania Human Rights Defender’s Coalition (THRDC) have on January 11, 2017 filled a petition at the African Court of Justice (EACJ) to challenge the newly passed Media Services Act No. 12 of 2016.
The LHRC in collaboration with other two petitioners have decided to file a petition to challenge sections of the Media Service Act 2016 deemed to be a threat to the freedom of expression and freedom of information thus constituting a violation of Tanzania’s obligation under the East African Treaty to uphold and protect human and people’s rights standards as specified under Articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the Treaty.
When responding to the members of the press at the EACJ’s Dar es Salaam Registry premises, the Executive Secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Kajubi Mukajanga revealed the motive behind the triplet suing the government to the EACJ to be the nature of EACJ’s responsibilities to its partner states, and the motive to exhaust the opportunity of having EACJ within a country. “Tanzania is a member State of the East African Community having ratified the treaty on July 7, 2000. Under article 23 of the treaty, the EACJ is tasked with ensuring the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the treaty. The EACJ has been confirmed to be the most appropriate court to adjudicate on questions regarding the interpretation and application of partner’s states obligation under the treaty”
In the same development, the LHRC’s Executive Director, Dr. Helen Kijo-Bisimba responded to journalists’ questions as to why they played down a chance given by the parliament to give their views during the Bill reviewing process saying that “we (LHRC) and many other stakeholders were not satisfied with allocated time for reviewing process as it was too limited in comparison to the number of sections in a Bill and Bunge committee wasn’t ready to extend time for the process to be inclusive and effective”. “We have thereby decided to file this petition so that the court makes a righteous and just decision on our claims” she concluded.
To top up the matter, the Executive Director for THRDC asserted the case to be for the benefit of all Tanzanians given that weakness of the Media Service Act affects not only media but the freedom of every individual in terms of the right to expression.
The Media service Act No. 12 of 2016 was enacted by the Parliament of United republic of Tanzania on November 5, 2016 and assented to by President John Pombe Magufuli on November 16, 2016. A team of lawyers representing the petitioners include attorneys, Fulgence Massawe, Donald Deya, Jenerali Ulimwengu, Jebra Kambole, Francis Stolla and Mpale Mpoki.
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