Media Council to petition Uhuru over ruthless law

November 4, 2013 12:06 pm
Media Council of Kenya Deputy Chief Executive Officer Victor Bwire. Photo/ FILE
Media Council of Kenya Deputy Chief Executive Officer Victor Bwire. Photo/ FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) is now set to present a petition to President Uhuru Kenyatta urging him not to assent to the controversial Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill 2013.

Speaking to Capital FM News, the council’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer Victor Bwire stated that the petition outlines some of the shortcomings of the draconian law.

He indicated that other than curtailing press freedom, it will be susceptible to misuse especially by the government.

“If you look at the Media Council Bill which is to be presented in Parliament, it talks about strengthening the Complaints Commission to look at professional misconduct. While that bill is talking of strengthening the Complaints Commission at the Media Council, this other one – Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill – is already talking about another tribunal. This is causing confusion,” he said.

Bwire pointed out that the fines outlined in the passed bill are outrageous and states that there will also be a duplication of functions which will cause disorder.

“Those fines should be removed obviously the Sh2 million and Sh20 million. If they attempt to remove the Complaints Commission from the Media Council of Kenya then principally they are killing the spirit of self regulation and this is the best practice in all sector be it lawyers, engineers and so on,” he outlined.

He also explained that the petition by MCK is expected to be presented to the President as soon as possible before the end of the 14 day period required for him to assent to the new law.

“The law making process stipulates that after 14 days, if the President has not assented, the law becomes law so we are moving within that time. Any law that is made is to help promote press freedom, not kill it. This law obviously inhibits press freedom and it should be removed from KICA Bill and be put under Media Council Bill,” he said.

Under the law, journalists also risk being deregistered and their bank accounts frozen.

The MPs voted to create a tribunal that will handle complaints against the media and have power to impose the harsh penalties.

The House accepted a proposal by the Energy, Information and Communication Committee for the creation of Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal.

It has the power to fine individual journalists not more than Sh1 million for violating the code.

The tribunal also has the power to recommend the suspension or removal from the register of the journalist involved.

It has also been granted the power to make any orders it feels would be necessary to carry into effect the orders or directives it would make.


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