3 December 2013

Kenya: Journalists Protest Draconian Media Bill

Photo: The Star
Parliament postpones discussing the media bills pending decision to adopt the president's recommendations.(file photo).

Civil Society groups have said they will move to court to stop the passing of the KICA Bill into law after President Uhuru Kenyatta returned it with amendments to the National Assembly for debate last week.

The societies said this while staging a peaceful protest where they marched from Kimathi Street, to Moi Avenue and on to Harambee Avenue before converging outside the National Assembly building.

While at Parliament, journalists who were part of the protest forwarded a petition to the president through the vice chairman of the Editors Guild David Ohito in which they asked the president to reconsider the Sh500,000 fine that journalists are to be charged.

"As journalists we are concerned with the establishment of the Communication and Multi Media Tribunal which has powers to impose huge financial penalties, which even at Sh500,000, down from Sh1 million, will have the effect of intimidating journalists," Ohito said in a joint address with William Janaka, the chairman of the Kenya Correspondents Association.

The petition was received by the Director of Digital, New Media and Diaspora, Deniss Itumbi who said he would forward the petition along with other concerns raised by the NGO's and the media, to the President.

The protesting scribes additionally took issue with the Sh20 million fine to be imposed on media houses if found to have contravened the law in the course of reporting saying that the many media houses whose profits are minimal will be forced to close down.

Ohito while agreeing that a regulatory body to check the media was important said that KICA Bill undermines the provisions of Article 34(5) of the constitution in relation to the establishment of an independent body to regulate the media.

Ohito urged the President to facilitate a quick re-assessment of the Bill through the National Assembly in consultation with stakeholders to establish a law devoid of controversy and which will not undermine democracy and the constitution.

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