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Govt urged to increase efforts to find missing journalist   With the disappearance of Azory Gwanda, a journalist reporting for Mwananchi newspaper entering the third week with no sign of his whereabouts, the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) and four other civic organizations have strongly appealed to the Government to double efforts to find the missing scribe.
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Media practitioners and stakeholders have nodded to a pack of proposals to be accommodated in the proposed media services and access to information bills.

The proposals on the two bills were prepared by a select team picked by the Committee on the Right to Information (CORI).

Pili Mtambalike a member of the select team presented before the one-day meeting of the media practitioners and stakeholders held on March 10,2016 in Dar es Salaam proposals on the Media Services Bill (MSB) while another member James Marenga presented proposals on Access to Information Bills.

The objective of the proposed Media Services legislation is to establish, strengthen and protect media outlets in Tanzania, protect the rights of media practitioners, promote professionalism , defend rights of employees of the media, maintain confidentiality of news sources, introduce regulations for media and for media ownership as well.

On setting up a body on promoting and overseeing media practice, media stakeholders propose the new legislation should provide them opportunity to establish a self regulatory professional body that would oversee and promote ethics and professionalism.

The body would also oversee quality and standards and that proposed legislation should provide it with instruments to set-up regulations on the requisite educational qualifications for media practitioners.

The legislations should set mechanism for leaders of the proposed body to be elected by media practitioners, and its secretariat to be appointed according to set regulations. The body would be empowered to set rules on its finances.

Other salient proposals by the select team include the proposed legislation should guarantee independence for Tanzanians to establish and own media outlets provided friendly environment for setting and running them.

For public media, the law should stipulate that they should be run and managed by a special committee answerable to the Parliament.

The government information department should under the law provide information to all parties without any preference.

The law should ensure that media practitioners are free in seeking, investigating, receiving, processing and publishing information without interference, coercion, threats or control by individual or any institution.

Media practitioners should be free in discharging their duties based on ethics under the proposed legislation.

The   select team has also proposed that professional mistakes should not be criminalized and that the law should come up with clear definitions of terms such as sedition, right information, lies and national interests.

It is proposed professional mistakes should be pursued as civil cases and criminal offences.

The select committee has also proposed that the new legislation should not accommodate a clause to suspend or ban newspapers on ethical lapses, instead appropriate measures should be taken by relevant bodies.

These proposals and the ones on the Access To Information Bill (ATI) were essentially widely supported by the participants to the one-day meeting jointly organized by BBC Action, the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) and Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF).

The proposals which will be presented to CORI meeting for final scrutiny, sifting and sprucing before they presented to the respective ministries, attracted some inputs from the meeting participants.

The Ministry for Information handles the MSB while the ministry for Constitutional and Legal Affairs deals with the ATI.

The bills, according to sources may be presented during the forthcoming Budget Session of the National Assembly.

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