The National Coordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition Onesmo Olengurumwa mentioned on Wednesday in a press release that the 14-days suspension decision of the said license was made by the ministry of information, culture, Arts and sport by virtue of section 9(b) of the MSA, 2016 but the statement did not say whether the paramount right to be heard was accorded to the Uhuru Newspaper before a suspension was issued.
He underscored that according to the statement issued by the Director of Information, Uhuru Newspaper’s license has been suspended allegedly for publishing false information against the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, the information published reads “sina wazo kuwania Urais 2025-Samia” which literally means “I have no plan of running for presidency in 2025-Samia”.
Olengurumwa added that this information is alleged to contravene section 50(1) (a),(b) and (c) and section 52(d) and (e) of the MSA,2016 insisting that all these provisions were successfully challenged by THRDC and other organizations at the East African Court of Justice(EACJ) through Reference No 02 of 2017.
“Uhuru Newspaper has been the first Newspaper to be suspended in 2021, however other newspapers were suspended ever since the enactment of the MSA, 2016 we have witnessed newspapers such as Tanzania Daima Newspaper, Mawio, Mseto, MwanaHalisi , Raia Mwema, Mwananchi and The Citizen being either banned for some time and others have their license cancelled,” he intoned emphasizing that MSA 2016, is just one of the media laws that curtail freedom of expression in Tanzania, other laws include but not limited to: The cybercrimes Act of 2015 and the online content regulations of 2020.
“We think it could be proper to take legal measures against the author of such information and not suspending the Newspaper from the operations,” he mentioned.
“We also urge the government of Tanzania to honour the decision of the East African Court of Justice by taking necessary measures to ensure the MSA complies with the EAC Treaty, remaining reluctant heeding EACJ orders brings a bad image to the country given the fact that Tanzania signed the treaty in good faith,” he insisted.
THRDC National Coordinator highlighted that in 2017, the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) and the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) filed Reference No 02 to the EACJ challenging several provisions of the MSA for contravening the Treaty for the establishment of East African Community (EAC) and the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.
He also said the case was heard on merit whereby on 28th day of March, the EACJ decided in favour of the petitioners (MCT, LHRC and THRDC) and ordered that the government of Tanzania should take all necessary measures to ensure that MA complies with the treaty including amending sections 50 and 52 of the Act.
“The court also went ahead to declare several provisions of the law as going against the EAC Treaty. Much as the government of Tanzania has not appealed against the decisions it has never taken any measure(s) nor amended the law since the promulgation of the judgment in 2019. Hence, the law continues to be used to the detriment of journalists and media owners,” he revealed.