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World2015

The commemoration at national level to mark World Press Freedom Day this year started and ended with

strong vows to press the government to yield to popular demands to improve the recently passed legislations on cyber crime and statistics before they are signed into law by the President.

Media stakeholders who met for two days at the Nasheera Hotel in Morogoro May 2 to May 3 , also urged the government to return to the drawing board two bills – The Media Services Bill and Access to Information terming them as the most draconian and acts for suppression of information .

The President Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was urged by the Chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa- Tanzania Chapter ( MISA-Tan), Simon Berege, not to sign the two legislation passed by Parliament as that would dent and tarnish his progressive and positive image.

The other two bills were tabled and read for the first time in Parliament and now stakeholders will have the opportunity to make their contributions.

But gauging from the general response, the bills are not accepted wholesome and stakeholders cite the Media Services bill as not irredeemable.

Pili Mtambalike the Regulations and Standard Manager of the Media Council of Tanzania said the bills were very restrictive than all the other media laws in the country.

Presenting the Council’s greetings at the annual event, Mtambalike said that media practitioners in the country are facing myriad of challenges in executing their duties.

The Press freedom register established by MCT reflects that beating of journalists is becoming common practice in the country.

The two legislations which are awaiting the President’s assent and the two bills were also roundly slammed even by development partners who spoke during the commemoration of the Press Freedom.

The Resident Director of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Rolf Paasch said that bills should not be a curse.

However he said, he read the bills, and pointed out that: “ I know four draconian bills”.

Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KARS) Resident Representative, Steffan Reith said that legislations should balance freedom of expression and security.

However, he said the two legislations on cybercrime and statistics would reduce freedom of expression.

He said if we insist on security, then he asked, whose security? The security of the people or of the rulers, he challenged.

The Head of Delegation of the European union, Ambassador Filiberto Cerian Sebregondi, cautioned that by adopting stringent anti media legislations, Tanzania might slip further down in the world rankings of freedom of expression.

He also appealed for recruitment and training of more women journalists, and caused laughter when he said there could be a Tanzanian Amanpour hidden somewhere -(referring to CNN senior journalist Christiane Amanpour).

The Resident Coordinator of the United Nation in Tanzania, Alvero Rodriguez despite sharing sentiments against the bad legislation, appealed to the media to adhere to professional ethics and to be guided by the spirit of truth in reporting the forthcoming general elections.

He said that the media should ensure that the youth who will voting for the first time in this elections , the women, the marginalized and disadvantaged groups are well informed to utilize their constitutional and democratic rights by participating in the elections.

Others who spoke during the commemoration of the World Press Freedom day were the Director of the Tanzania Media Fund, Ernest Sungura, the Executive Director of Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), Valerie Msoka , the Vice President of the Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC) Jane Mihanji, the Secretary of Tanzania Media Owners Association (MOAT), Henry Muhanika, and Head of Cooperate Communication of the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authory (TCRA), Innocent Mungy.

This year’s commemoration whose theme was Media Safety in the Digital Age: Better Reporting , Gender Equality and Privacy was preceded by a one-day workshop where three papers were presented and invited media veterans shared their experience with the audience and three journalists presented testimonies of press freedom violation.

The papers were Better Reporting and Independent Journalism in the Digital Age by journalist Erick Kabendera; Gender and Media (with special focus on the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for change presented by Valerie Msoka the TAMWA Executive Director and the third was Towards Better Digital Safety for journalists and Their Sources presented by Maxcence Melo, the CEO of Jamii Forum.

World Press Freedom Day is marked on May 3, every year and was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993.

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