Deus Valentine Rweyemamu vs. The Honourable Attorney General and Minister For Information, Communication And Information Technology Misc. Civil Application No. …… of 2023 High Court of Tanzania Dar es salaam Main Registry.

The case at hand revolves around the contentious Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, initially enacted in 2018 and subsequently amended in 2020. Despite these amendments, further changes were made in 2022. However, the Center for Strategic Litigation (CSL), filed this petition in the High Court of Tanzania contending that even with these amendments, the regulations still contain provisions that unduly limit freedom of expression.

The Center for Strategic Litigation, argues that the Electronic And Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2020 amended by the Electronic And Postal Communications (Online Content) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, infringe upon various constitutional rights. Specifically, CSL argues that the provisions violate the rights enshrined in Article 18 (freedom of expression), Article 22 (right to work), and Article 13 (right to a fair hearing) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The contested regulations include those concerning unclear definitions (Regulation 3), mandatory licensing requirements (Regulation 4), exorbitant fees for registration and licensing (Regulation 5), monitoring and moderation obligations without clear definitions (Regulation 6), lack of safeguards in the issuance and revocation of licenses (Regulation 8), granting of excessive powers to regulatory authorities without safeguards against abuse (Regulation 7), stipulating wide and unreasonable obligations for service providers (Regulation 9), imposing disproportionate criminal penalties for contravention (Regulation 21), and various items listed in the third schedule of the regulations for containing provisions open to subjective interpretation and restricting freedom of expression.

The Center seeks declarations from the Court asserting violations of various constitutional rights, including the right to a fair hearing, freedom of expression, privacy, and the right to work. The Petitioner also challenges the provision of unchecked powers to regulatory authorities and the imposition of excessive criminal penalties. Their ultimate aim is to secure declarations that specific provisions of the regulations and their amendments are null and void due to their inconsistency with constitutional standards, thereby ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.

The case has been scheduled for a court date on the 22nd May, 2024.

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