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Media Council of Tanzania Website
The first ever joint meeting of the Judiciary and the Media held on December 3, 2014 conluded in harmonious and promising tone of promoting closer working relationship, devoid of mistrust.
The Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman who opened the historic meeting by stating that both the Judiciary and Media work in public interest, closed it with a hopeful remark that all issues that transpired during discussions are possible.
He said in covering the courts, the media relays justice to ‘million eyes and ears’ and on its part the judiciary in dispensing justice gives media the ‘raw materials’ for journalists.
The theme of the forum jointly organized by the Judiciary and the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), was Independent Judiciary and Media are Bedrock of Public Confidence in the Rule of Law.
Chief Justice Othman expressed the hope that the forum that brought together judges, senior staff of the judiciary and editors from various outlets including mainstream media, will provide guidelines on how the two sides would interact properly.
The President of the Media Council of Tanzania, rtd Justice Thomas Mihayo who spoke earlier , referring the forum as the “baby” of the Chief Justice said, “ we are very excited to realize this forum of two institutions”.
Justice Mihayo said that the judiciary was in the past complaining about the inaccuracies in reporting of court proceedings and the media on its part complained on strict regulations.
He pointed out that the forum would minimize the mistrust between the two sides.
The Executive of the Media Council of Tanzania, Kajubi Mukajanga, in a paper titled Judiciary and the Media: Working Together, safeguarding, Independence and Professionalism in Service of the People, emphasised that the two need each other.
“ We all know that in order for judiciary to be credible, justice must be done and must be seen to be done” , he said noting that while the courts dispense justice, media has to cover the proceedings as well as the subsequent judgment so that the public can see that justice is done.
On promoting quality coverage in the media of judiciary activities, Mukajanga narrated experiences of a number of countries which have initiated measures even of appointing Press judges to liaise with media.
Touching on the issue of abhorrent and archaic media legislations, Mukajanga strongly challenged the judiciary to assist in quashing such laws which are not relevant and are hated by everybody - media and even the President.
He also appealed to the judiciary to support the media in defence of their independence pointing out that the judiciary has nothing to lose but everything to gain by defending media independence.
Justice Dr. Fauz Twaib presenting a paper on the Scope and Limits of the Independence of the media: Maintaining a Balanced View of the Rule of Law made numerous proposals to cultivate a healthy working relationship between the two sides.
They include – the setting of an information unit within the judiciary, training of journalists at the Judiciary Training Center at Lushoto, guidelines for covering courts and provision of press releases by the Judiciary on sensitive issues.
The question of awarding the Judiciary with Padlock for Secrecy during the Right to Know Day on Seoptember 28,2014 also featured during the discussion with the Principal Judge Shaaban Lilla countering that, the judiciary was open and not secretive as asserted.
He said that up to November this year, the Judiciary had made 10,000 rulings involving so many people.
This by any standards reflects contrary to being secretive, the Principal Judge added pointing out that it may only be so perhaps to the media.
Chief Justice Chande in his concluding remarks had also pointed out that media misses out coverage of important issues ruled by the courts and has poor attendance records even on pertinent cases involving.
He cited the case of the deaths of several children in a disco toto during Idd celebration in Tabora which was widely covered by the media, but it did not cover the final ruling in court.
Likewise the attendance of both plaintif and defendants in the case against the newspaper act filed in 2009 has been dismally poor.
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