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Discontent grows over media law

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 4 – Representatives of the civil society are calling on the President to convene Parliament as soon as possible to allow for the amendment of the contentious Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act.

The chairman of the NGO Council Dr Simeon Kanani said on Sunday that they were concerned about the protection of civil liberties after the President signed the Bill into law.

Dr Kanani however appealed to Parliamentarians and the Media Owners Association to hold discussions on the matter.

"We are making a special appeal for dialogue between Parliament and the media owners so as to take the contentious section to Parliament for review," Dr Kanani said

Speaking to journalists at the council’s office’s Dr Kanani expressed concern that the law was an infringement to the constitutional right of Kenyan citizens to freely express themselves.

He warned that the civil society may resort to mass action if all other attempts to change the law didn’t work.

"We are a great consumer of what the media sells which further advises us on various actions in relation to our job. We will do whatever it takes even if it means going on mass action across the country we will do," Dr Kanani said.

Meanwhile the Chairman of Community Based Organizations Tom Aosa who also attended the press briefing faulted Members of Parliament for passing the controversial law that seeks to curtail media freedom and thereafter criticising it.

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Mr Aosa said MPs were to fully blame for the situation the country was facing, after the President gave his assent to the legislation.

He asked donors to review their relations with the government.

"We are calling on you as the media to carefully know what to cover from this politicians because we have seen them doing some bad things including leading us in a bad way.  We have seen bad governance and because they have gone further away from what we expect them to do, we are calling upon even the donors to give them conditions," Mr Aosa said.

On the other hand Dr Kanani urged the media to consider seeking legal redress which he pointed out was not an option for the civil society who are not direct complainants.

"We are on the peripheral as consumers but we wish to agitate, to advice or to seek that the media houses should pursue vigorously legal aspects to repeal this Bill," Dr Kanani noted.

The lobbyists said any Kenyan could go to court to challenge the law, and pointed out they has asked their lawyers to ascertain what other course of action was open to them, if the ones currently proposed didn’t work out.


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