NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 17 – Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has assured the media that Parliament will not pass laws that infringe on their freedoms.
Addressing concerns by media owners and editors during the launch of the Parliament Week, Muturi said the contentious clauses in the Powers and Privileges Amendment Bill 2014 would be dealt with, assuring parliamentary reporters that they had nothing to be afraid of.
“These issues that have been raised are legitimate and valid and we have already received presentations from the Media Owners Association, the Editors Guild and the Kenya Parliamentary Journalists Association (KPJA) and I am sure my committee is going consider them and make proposals. I believe we will come up with a good law that will claw back on the gains given by the Constitution especially with regard to transparency, openness and the way we conduct our business,” assured Muturi.
He noted the importance of the media in informing the public about parliamentary affairs saying journalists should be allowed to report on any issues, as long as it is within the law.
“We must allow situations where others scrutinise our activities,” he said.
Muturi who later travelled to Mombasa to meet the Powers and Privileges Committee to discuss the Bill and its implications said it would also be forwarded to the Senate for debate to ensure both Houses agree on how activities will be run.
His sentiments were reiterated by Speaker of the Senate Ekwee Ethuro who urged journalists to play their role of being the public watchdog effectively and report without fear or favour on matters of public interest.
“When it comes to oversight, Parliament and the media have equal responsibility. Let us unearth the scandals, that is your job. We will work together on such. It’s important that we enhance the democratic space in the republic,” said Ethuro.
Deputy Minority Leader in the National Assembly Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem MP) who attended the meeting urged journalists to ensure they gave detailed, factual reports on issues so as to avoiding clashing with authorities.
“Both sides have a duty to move the country forward,” he added.
Leader of Majority in the Senate Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nithi) used the opportunity to champion the rights of women, urging journalists to ensure their voices were heard.
KPJA chairperson Roselyne Obala urged the leadership to ensure the gains made from the Constitution of Kenya 2010 on freedom of the press and access to information were not drawn back.
Kenya Editors Guild Chairman Linus Kaikai questioned the motive behind the move to come up with the clauses saying it was intended to intimidate journalists not to report on cases of bribery within parliament so as to shield parliamentarians from public scrutiny.
“When it comes to the powers and privileges Bill, we want freedom to operate…delete that thing,” he said.