ARTICLE 19 welcomes the establishment of an 11 member taskforce to review the Kenya Information and Communication Act (Broadcasting Regulations) 2010 but is disappointed with the incomplete and piecemeal legal reform being undertaken, given the deteriorating press freedom situation in the country.
“Formation of the taskforce is a noble gesture since it provides a framework for consultation and we hope its report will be reflective of views from all stakeholders. However, we still have too many laws including criminal defamation, which are not in line with international standards on freedom of expression, but the government has not said anything about intending to review or repeal them,” said Henry Maina, Regional Director ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.
The taskforce, chaired by Albert Kamunde, has two months to submit its recommendations to the government on how the current broadcasting regulations can be amended in light of new technologies and industry needs as well as the Constitution of Kenya (2010).
However, ARTICLE 19 believes that Kenya’s overall legal reform on freedom of expression and of the media has not gone far enough. Journalists continue to be charged with sedition or seditious libel under Penal Code, Cap. 63, Article 194. The Penal Code also offers special protection from scrutiny to the President, Cabinet Secretaries and Parliamentary officials. Further, courts continue to award public officials exorbitant amounts in damages over the prescribed maximum fines for civil defamation. Other offensive laws include the Books and Newspapers Act (Cap 111 of the Laws of Kenya) and Official Secrets Act (Cap 187 of 1968) which prohibits the media from accessing government information however basic it might be.
“These laws and provisions are not reflective of the international and regional freedom of expression and media freedoms standards which Kenya has committed to uphold and need to be urgently reviewed,” added Maina.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more media interviews please contact: Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa; Email: [email protected] or call +254 +254 727 862230