Tanzania: Newspaper Challenges Government Over Repressive Media Laws

mwanahalisi_newspaperThe Hali Halisi Publishers Limited, a company that owns Mwanahalisi Newspaper has launched a lawsuit against the Tanzania government in an attempt to seek nullification of provision 25(1) (2) of The Newspaper Act.

The Act was earlier used by the Minister of Information, Culture and Sports to ban publication of Mwanahalisi Newspaper from 13 October 2008 to 12 January 2009 for publishing stories allegedly aimed to incite public hatred against the President and provoking disorder within the Presidents family.
According to a government newspaper, Daily News of 15 August 2009, the ground for the suit is the fact that the provision goes contrary to The Constitution of The United Republic of Tanzania, as provided in its Articles where by Article 18(1)(2) provides for Freedom of expression, Article 14 provides for the right to live and livelihood and Article 22(1)(2) provides for the right to work.
Furthermore the petitioner (Mwanahalisi Newspaper) is seeking a declaration that the said provisions under the Act are not saved by the provision of Article 30(2) of the constitution. The petition is required to be heard by three Judges but neither assignment of the Judges nor the date of the hearing has been revealed. The respondent in the Constitution Petition are Attorney General and The Minister of Information, Culture and Sports.
MISA-Tanzania had earlier on denounced the move to ban Mwanahalisi Newspaper and called it as unconstitutional as it violated the right of the paper to media and freedom of expression. It also said the law used to suspend the newspaper was not measured against the constitutional provisions on media and freedom of expression. MISA-Tanzania noted, the government criminalized the media story that should have been taken up by those who were not happy with the story as a civil matter. It further encouraged those who felt aggrieved by the story to instead, utilize the Media Council of Tanzania as a remedy. It said the government should have identified who the complainant was, otherwise this could have serious travesty of justice as suspension has not been subjected to any legal recourse and was based on unilateral and blatantly biased views of the Minister.

Post published in: Zimbabwe News

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