The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today backed its Kenyan affiliate, the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), which accused the authorities of a major clampdown of media in the past few months, after a series of arrests of journalists by the police in the country.
According to a press statement issued by the KUJ on Saturday 16 April, "the police have resorted to the obsolete Section 194 of the Penal Code and the misuse of Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communication Act to lock up journalists".
KUJ Secretary General, Erick Oduor, said "the union is perturbed by the arbitrary arrests of journalists. Sending journalists to jail does not only contravene Section 34 of the Constitution, but introduces criminal libel, which has no place in a modern society."
The IFJ has called on the Kenyan government to uphold the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa which enshrines the respect for the independence of journalists, their safety and security.
"We are concerned that the recent arrests of journalists threaten to roll back the hard won democratic rights and freedoms in Kenya," added IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "Criminal libel would do little to address press offences as such archaic laws only serve the purpose of stifling dissent and undermining media scrutiny which is a critical pillar of any democratic society."