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Journalists demand repeal of media law

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3 – Kenyan journalists marked the World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, with calls to have all contentious clauses in the Kenya Communication Act 2008 repealed.

The journalists who converged at a Nairobi hotel said some of the contentious clauses in the Bill had made it extremely difficult for journalists to operate in the country.

Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) Secretary General Mr Eric Orina called on the government to give an update of amendments that had been announced by the Attorney General four months ago.

“So far we are being told that it is not a priority but unless and until those particular contentious provisions in that law are removed then we are still at loggerheads with the government,” he said.

“The media is critically important to the future stability of this nation. We are not going to let the freedom we have demanded for many years be watered down or taken away by an Act of Parliament that was made without consultations with us.”

Mr Orina said there was nothing to celebrate in the face of increasing incidences of assault on both individual and press freedom.

“A critical analysis of the situation reveals that we have retrogressed in terms of press freedom in Kenya. This sad conclusion is a result of the fact that it has become a lot more difficult to work as a journalist.”

The Editors Guild chairman Mr Macharia Gaitho said that Kenya had entered list of shame for failing to uphold the interests of journalists at heart. 

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“A country that has always boasted a high degree of media freedom has rejoined the ranks of countries where journalists are killed in the line of duty,” he said, citing the recent killing of a journalist who was based in Nyamira district.

The late Francis Kainda Nyaruri was brutally murdered in January, a few weeks after he told colleagues that he had received death threats from some local administration officers and unnamed police officers.

He went missing for two weeks before his decapitated body was discovered in a forest.

The late Nyaruri’s articles were filed by a local newspaper under the pen name Mong’are Mokua.

Many of his articles sought to expose corruption and other malpractices in the government, security departments and local authorities in Nyamira district.

In a memorandum to the Attorney-General, the journalists said they would carry their own parallel investigations with the aim of instituting private prosecution on the culprits.
“So far, however, there has been no progress despite police promises of thorough investigations,” he said.

“We take this occasion of the International Press Freedom Day to demand that Police Commissioner Maj Gen Mohammed Hussein Ali and Attorney General Amos Wako institute independent and competent investigations into the murder case,” Mr Gaitho said.

He also urged the media fraternity in Kenya to unite in the fight against repression.

“An assault against one section of the media is an assault against the entire media. When it comes to defending media freedom, there must be no divide between mainstream media and the alternative media,” Mr Gaitho stressed.

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