3 December 2013

Kenya: Media, MPs Strike Deal On Draconian Law

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

Nairobi — The Media Council of Kenya on Tuesday announced that a deal had been struck with members of the National Assembly to amend the contentious issues that were in the Kenya Information and Communication Amendment (KICA) Bill.

The Council's Chairperson of the Ethics and Public Information Committee Grace Munjuri said that they had been assured that the National Assembly would finalise the debate on Wednesday to include the proposed amendments.

"After lengthy and involving consultations with the Committee on Energy, Communication and Information the Council has led the industry to broker a deal to amend the contentious issues that have been viewed by Kenyans in general and the media in particular."

"Similarly, Parliament is scheduled to finalise debate on the Media Council Bill 2013 which has some provisions that violate fundamental principles of freedom of expression," announced Munjuri.

Munjuri added that the amendments will protect the rights of the media stakeholders but will also ensure that journalists exercise responsible reporting.

Speaking to members of the Fourth Estate, she explained that they will mobilise members of Parliament to ensure that they attend sittings on Wednesday to pass the bill before they take a break.

"The KICA Bill will only regulate infrastructures issues in connection to the media which include licensing, signal distribution, courier services, postal services, and telecommunications."

"All issues to do with the ethical conduct of journalists and media enterprises will be handled by the independent Complaints Commission of the Media Council of Kenya and not the proposed Communication and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal."

"Further, the fines of Sh20 million for a media enterprise and Sh500,000 for journalists will only apply to persons and media industries that contravene the provisions of the Act and not matters related to the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism," said Munjuri.

She explained that the members of the Appeals Tribunal will be nominated by a panel from the industry and shall forward the name of the chairperson and members without the government having any part to play with the appointments.

Munjuri added: "The decisions made at the Media Council can only be appealed at the High Court and not through the proposed tribunal which has no jurisdiction over ethical issues in the industry."

Debate on the contentious Bill was scheduled for Tuesday, but was pushed to Wednesday to allow stakeholders finalise their negotiations on specific clauses.

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