Denied Request: A Lawyer’s Plea for Audio-Visual Court Proceedings in Tanzania
Lawyer Alexander Barunguza recently met with disappointment when his constitutional petition challenging his poor results at the Law School of Tanzania found a roadblock. His application for audio-visual recording of the court proceedings was dismissed by the High Court, Main Registry. The judge, Abdi Kagomba, cited lack of solid justification in the supporting affidavit as the basis for denying the request.
Public Interest vs Legal Conditions
Barunguza argued that the public was entitled to know the court proceedings pertaining to his complaints against the Law School. He wished to have the proceedings recorded for his family members both in and outside Tanzania. He stated that the only requirement for his application to be granted was the availability of audio-visual equipment, an area in which the Judiciary has been making significant advancements.
In response to this, Mr Kalokola agreed that the law permits audio-visual recording of court proceedings, but he insisted that all legal conditions must be met. These conditions include ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the equipment, and court approval for the equipment used to record and disseminate information.
The Court’s Stand on the Matter
In his ruling, Judge Kagomba noted that Barunguza’s motivation for the request was to inform himself, his relatives, and the general public about his constitutional case’s proceedings. However, the judge pointed out that neither the chamber summons nor the supporting affidavit addressed Barunguza’s desire to share the electronically-recorded proceedings. As a result, the judge concluded that Barunguza failed to provide a sufficient basis for the court to order the electronic recording of the proceedings or to share them with his relatives and the public.
Barunguza, a Bachelor of Laws degree holder from the University of Tumaini-Makumira, Arusha, was admitted to the Law School of Tanzania for a Practical Legal Training Programme in November 2019. Despite starting his training as a December-Intake, he failed two courses in the 2020/2021 examinations. This lead him to file an appeal against the results, alleging that his exam-answer scripts were unfairly marked. Barunguza also sat for supplementary examinations in May/June 2021 for the two failed courses. After his appeal was dismissed, he sought judicial review, leading to the current court proceedings.
Implications and Future Directions
The dismissal of Barunguza’s request for audio-visual recording of court proceedings raises questions about public access to court proceedings and the conditions under which such access should be granted. It also highlights the challenges faced by students in their academic and legal battles. While the court’s decision is in line with the legal framework, it could lead to a broader discussion on the need for transparency in court proceedings and the rights of students in academic disputes.
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