MPs warned over documents LEONARD MWAKALEBELA in Dodoma, 21st April 2009 @ 11:53, DAILY NEWS The government has warned Members of Parliament that their privileges and immunities that go with their offices do not cover them against holding classified government documents. Minister in the Presidents Office, Public Service Management, Mrs Hawa Ghasia said that using such documents for political motives was inherently unlawful, and that anyone holding such documents was liable to prosecution because there is no immunity for such MPs. She was responding to supplementary questions by Mr Siraju Juma Kaboyonga (Tabora Urban-CCM) and Ms Rosemary Kasimbi Kirigini (Special Seats-CCM). Mr Kaboyonga wanted to know if privileges and powers enjoyed by MPs also gave them immunity against prosecution for possessing government classified documents. On her part, Ms Kirigini wanted to know what measures had been taken against some MPs who were allegedly in possession of the documents and using them to pursue political interests. The minister said the government knew that some MPs had these papers in their possession for political reasons but warned that the law would soon take its course against them. She added that her office had since discovered that some MPs were forking out huge sums of money to get such documents. Were investigating to establish (both) their sources and the motives behind, the minister said. Answering the basic question raised by Kheri Khatib Ameir (Matemwe-CCM), Mrs Ghasia admitted that many classified documents had fallen into unauthorized hands recently mostly individuals seeking political capital. This situation cannot be ignored it must be addressed thoroughly in order to contain the abuse of such documents. Possession of such documents is liable to criminal prosecution according to the laws of the land, the minister insisted. She cited the relevant laws against possession of classified documents by individuals as the National Security Act no. 3 of 1970, National Archives and Records Act no. 3 of 2002, Public Service Act no. 8 of 2002 and Standing Regulations of the public service. These laws stipulate division of responsibilities among state organs and give powers to arrest and prosecute suspected thieves of the classified documents, Mrs Ghasia explained. She said her office would work with other state organs in investigating the spate of leakages. Mr Ameir had asked for details of the people so far arrested for the crime during the past one year -- and what disciplinary and legal measures had been taken against them. He also wanted to know what efforts the government was making to contain leakage of its sensitive documents, describing the leakages as a threat to national security. However, Mrs Ghasia said no such arrests had been made so far but only acknowledged that some suspects had been removed from their offices -- or transferred to others. The minister also cautioned the general public against abuse of such documents following increased use of information and communication technology (ICT).