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A delegation of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and high ranking diplomats from the European Union (EU) and Canada paid a working visit to the Media Council of Tanzania and discussed the state of the media in the country in view of the recent developments in which two Kiswahili newspapers– Mwananchi and Mtanzania were banned.

The delegation was led by EU Ambassador, Filiberto C. Sebbregondi.

The issues that were discussed during the meeting held at the Council’s offices on October 7, 2013, include the state of legislations governing media in Tanzania and if they hinder press freedom, the state of professionalism in the media and what the MCT is doing to address the question of quality journalism.

The meeting also discussed the emerging trend threatening the professional rights of journalists including intimidation and even killing of journalists citing the case of Daudi Mwangosi who was killed last year.

Generally the heads of the missions and country representatives expressed support for press freedom and emphasised that the freedom of the press is a pillar of democracy.

The MCT Executive Secretary, Kajubi Mukajanga, told the ambassadors, ” We are not saying that there are no mistakes in the media. But we are saying these mistakes should not be criminalized as there are many avenues to sort them out.

“ It is a pity that just when we are getting a good image that our government advancing transparency and that our president is committed to open government, suddenly the government takes decision detrimental to that image”, he said.

In a statement released by the EU following the closure of the two newspapers, it appealed to the government to make every effort to preserve the freedom of expression and promote the right of information .

The EU maintained in the statement that a responsible press plays a key role and urged all stakeholders to prioritise constructive dialogue as a primary means to resolve the differences.

Other ambassadors who were in the delegation which visited MCT were Olivier Chave of Switzerland, Lennarth Hjelmaker of Sweden, Johnny Flento of Demanrk, Sinikka Antila of Finland, Luis Guesta of Spain, Koen Adam of Belgium, and Jaap Frederiks of Netherlands.

Others are Acting High Commissioner of Canada Patricia McCullagh, Tom Vens of EU mission, Claude Blevin Premier Counselor of the French Embassy, Maire Matthews of Embassy of Ireland, Lise Stensrud of Norway and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) official Marcelina Biro.

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