Input of The EACJ In Developing The Jurisprudence on Freedom of The Press in East Africa

James Jesse


The Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania
enacted the Media Services Act on 5 November
2016 and the President assented to it two weeks
later. The Act was enacted largely for the purposes
of promoting professionalism in the media industry,
regulating media services in the country,
establishing the Journalist Accreditation Board and
establishing the Media Services Council. Media
stakeholders and Civil Society Organisations
criticized the Act, arguing that it was meant to
muzzle media freedom in the country contrary to
the prevailing human rights standards. In January
2017 these organisations filed a case at the East
African Court of Justice (EACJ) challenging the
said law. After hearing both parties, i.e., the
Applicants and the State Attorneys who
represented the Attorney General of Tanzania, on
28 March 2019 the First Instance Division of the
EACJ made a judgement to the effect that the Tanzania Media Services Act unjustifiably infringe
the freedom of expression which is one of the
human rights standards Partner States to the East
African Community are required to respect and
protect. This article provides critical analysis of the

Key words: Freedom of expression, press freedom, criminal
defamation, sedition, proportionality test.

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