THE African Editors Forum (TAEF) says media freedom is a basic human right as well as an indispensable constituent of democracy in every African country. TAEF has congratulated one of Africa’s highest courts for striking a blow for media freedom and freedom of expression. TAEF says it is extremely happy with the ruling by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) which found that multiple sections of Tanzania’s Media Services Act were inimical to media freedom.
The court has called on the Tanzanian government to repeal the Act. TAEF echoed the sentiments of the court and called on the Tanzanian government to act with speed and repeal the 2016 Media Services Act. The EACJ found that multiple sections of Media Services Act, including those on sedition, criminal defamation, and false news publication, restricted media freedom and freedom of expression.
These violations were found to be in breach of the constitutive treaty of the East African Community, a regional economic bloc of which Tanzania is a member. The EACJ directed Tanzania to “take such measures as are necessary” to bring the law into compliance with the treaty. TAEF has for long been concerned about the deterioration of media freedom in Tanzania where critical journalists have been detained and publications seized by the authorities.
“We congratulate the EACJ and call on President John Magufuli of Tanzania and the Tanzanian Parliament to act, without delay, to remove the Media Services Act as well as other pieces of legislation from the statuette boom,” said TAEF chairperson Jovial Rantao.
TAEF reiterates its call that Africa needs strong, free and independent media to act as a watchdog over public institutions.
“Media freedom is a basic human right as well as an indispensable constituent of democracy in every African country. Citizens in all African states will not be free until all media on the continent is free. Nations of Africa need a free media so that it can provide them with information that would enable them to take an informed decision about their lives. Governments across the continent, who have pledged to uphold freedom of the media must walk the talk and stop harassing and detaining journalists and editors for doing their work,” said Rantao.