Speaking during the start of the training on Wednesday in Morogoro, the Executive Secretary of MCT, Kajubi Mukajanga, said it is important for editors to be aware of the decisions on media related cases reached by the courts.
He said some editors are either not informed of such decisions or are simply afraid to acknowledge them.
According to Mukajanga it has taken media stakeholders a long time to start seeking legal interpretation in courts of law which are not friendly to the media.
It is only in last two years that media stakeholders began to take steps to seek legal interpretations, Mukajanga said, pointing out however that some media outlets shun publishing court decisions on the successes of stakeholders who dared to challenge obstructive laws.
He said he had once asked an editor of one mainstream newspaper why they did not publish the decision by East African Court of Justice (EACJ) which ordered the Tanzanian government to amend the Media Services Act of 2016 so that it reflects the positive spirit of the agreement of the East African Cooperation.
The editor, Mukajanga said, could not give clear cut answer.
Mukajanga went on to say that the courts are privileged and no one would be taken to task for reporting court decisions.
He explained that the stakeholder’s objective in filing cases to challenge the anti media laws is not only to win but to raise important and substantive issues in the public interests.
He also spoke of the independent media council that the government intends to set up under MSA 2016, pointing out that initially there was jittery but as MCT- the self regulatory body set by media practitioners was established by law, there was no need for worrying.
The duties of the new council do not overlap with those of MCT but where necessary, we may seek explanation, he added.
On editors’ guild, Mukajanga said it was MCT which mooted the idea of having editors’ forum and succeeded in setting it up and the Council’s intention was to ensure that the editors have a strong body.
He reminded the participants of the training that it was MCT which also started the Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC).
He said some of the regional clubs were branches of the Association of Journalists and Media Workers (AJM) which he was the founding chairperson while other regional press clubs were established under a project coordinated by the Council.
In the first session of the training the participants were enlightened on strategic litigation as Advocacy tool; Getting the message out.
Senior Programmes Officer of MCT, Humphrey Mtuy elucidated on why litigation was commendable and who can be involved and if there is a chance for more stakeholders to join.
Advocates Mpale Mpoki and Jebra Kabole led group discussions on identifying the strength and weakness of laws and identifying issues in cases.
The two advocates will also speak on decisions reached by regional and national courts which will include the decision on MSA 2016 by EACJ and High Court in Mwanza, and decisions on HaliHalisi, Mawio and Tanzania Daima and the Electronic and Postal Communication Act (EPOCA) and criminal cases.