MSETO newspaper, a weekly publication banned by the government of Tanzania in 2016, has won a court case after serving 22 months of a 36-months “sentence.”
Subsequently, the East African Court of Justice has ordered the minister for information, culture and sports to annul the ban imposed on the newspaper.
On 11th August 2016, applying the now defunct Newspapers Act of 1976, then minister Nape Nnauye banned Mseto newspaper accusing it of publishing an erroneous and seditious story implicating a government minister in a corrupt deal meant to raise funds for President John Magufuli’s election campaigns.
Today’s judgment was delivered by Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi (Principal Judge), Justice Isaac Lenaola (Deputy Principal Judge), Justice Dr. Faustin Ntezilyayo, Justice Fakihi A. Jundu and Justice Audace Ngiye.
The bench unanimously decided that the government failed to substantiate grounds for the ban, and that the action amounted to violation of the right of freedom of expression as per Article 18(1) of the Constitution of Tanzania and Articles 19(3) of the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and 27(2) of the African Charter.
The ruling stresses: “Further, the order derogates from the principles of democracy and adherence to the principles of good governance, the rule of law and social justice. Court also found the order failed to conform with and adhere to the principles of accountability and transparency.
“By issuing orders whimsically and which were merely his ‘opinions’ and by failing to recognize the right to freedom of expression and press freedom as a basic human right which should be protected, recognized and promoted in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter, the minister acted unlawfully.”
According to the ruling, the minister acted with malice in breach of the treaty. The court ordered the government to implement the ruling without delay, “within its internal legal mechanisms.”
SAUTI KUBWA presents a copy of the court ruling here: Mawio