NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) Complaints Commission on Tuesday ordered The Star Newspaper to publicly apologise to President Uhuru Kenyatta for an article that suggested he was unfit to be president.
The complaints commission says the apology should be published within the next 14 days giving similar prominence to the offending article published in February last year.
“The commission orders the respondent to publish a public apology to the complainant in the same manner and prominence as the offending article for vilifying complainant. We order the counsel for both parties to agree on the draft statements offering the apologies to the complainant within 14 days from today. In the event of failure, we direct that this matter be mentioned before the commission for further orders. Either party is at liberty to apply,” the commissioners ordered.
They further directed The Star to pull down the online version of the story with immediate effect and publish an online version apologising to the president.
According to the commission, the website apology should last for seven days from the date of the ruling delivered on Tuesday.
The Star and the author of the article Jerry Okungu, who are the respondents in the case, were also reprimanded for vilifying Kenyatta and failing to respect his reputation. “The commission shall issue a statement of public reprimand to be published by the Media Council of Kenya in at least two newspapers of wide circulation.”
The article was published in February last year after which Kenyatta filed a complaint saying it promoted hate speech and incited ethnic hatred apart from injuring his reputation.
The story claimed that if Kenyatta became president “it will remind the world of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s when he won a German election in a landslide.”
Kenyatta complained that the article incited public hatred and incited ethnic hatred besides comparing him to a leader whose reputation is unspeakable.
“The complainant stated that the publication was deliberate and malicious especially by equating him to Adolf Hitler, a German tyrant ruler famous for causing the 2nd World War and extermination of more than six million people in torture chambers,” the commission recalled.