December 15 2008
By Job Weru
President Kibaki should apologize to Kenyans over the unprecedented arrests of journalists on Jamhuri Day, former MP Wanyiri Kihoro has said.
Addressing a Press conference in Nyeri, Mr Kihoro, said the communications Bill was passed irregularly since only 25 MPs were in Parliament.
Kihoro, a lawyer, said a quorum of at least 30 MPs should be in Parliament to discuss and pass any law.
“This law is inappropriate and irregular. It did not pass the quorum test, and Kibaki should not give Kenyans a law that will allow Government to commit crimes against the media,” he said.
He said if signed into law, the Bill would allow the Government to perpetrate ills against Kenyans, without fear of being exposed by the media.
Kihoro said there would be no free governance without free Press.
“We better have a free Press, than a free Government and gagged media, since free Press will always ensure justice and tranquility for all Kenyans,” he said.
He added: “It is time we spoke openly against this Bill. It is draconian and would lead us into darkness. Let us all rise against this Bill.”
Kihoro termed MPs saying they were not in Parliament as insincere, and taking House business outside Parliament.
“That is conspiracy that should not be allowed to continue, since we have learned that most of those claiming they were not in Parliament drew their sitting allowances for the day,” he said.
Kihoro said, Kibaki owed Kenyans an apology, over the sideshows created during Jamhuri Day celebrations by his security detail who were arresting journalists.
“Kibaki must not allow such scenes to occur. Instead of celebrating, the ruthless security personnel chose to engage journalists in inhumane arrests,” he said.
Kihoro also termed Monday’s arrest of journalists protesting over passing of the controversial Bill in Nairobi as a return to the dark days when Kenyans were not allowed to speak of issues affecting them.
And speaking separately in Ngorano area in Mathira, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni described the arrest of journalists as unfortunate.
“The media people are holding a view that should be addressed carefully, other than booking them into cells,” he said.
He added: “People should not be apprehended while pushing for crucial rights.”
Speaking at a funeral service in the area, the MP criticized colleagues now against the Bill after it was passed in Parliament saying they were playing populist politics.
“Where were they when the Bill was passed?
Journalists arrested in Kenya
December 13 2008
By Alex Kiarie
Kenya police have arrested journalists who were protesting at the passing of a bill in parliament which gives the Internal Security Minister the powers to raid and disable media houses which he feels are a possible threat to national security.
The Kenya Communication Amendments Bill was passed by the Kenyan parliament on Wednesday. The bill has drawn criticism from media houses, human rights organizations and the general public.
The arrest occurred on Friday at the Jamhuri Day (Independence) celebrations in the capital Nairobi. Journalists from different media houses were arrested as they held a demonstration in support of media freedom at the Nyayo stadium where president Kibaki was scheduled to lead the nation in marking the 45th anniversary of Kenya’s independence. It is celebrated on 12th December each year.
Amongst those arrested are John Allan Namu and Sadiq Shabaan both of Kenya Television Network, and the combative Kiss FM breakfast show host, Caroline Mutoko. Also arrested was Mwalimu Mati of Mars Group – a civil rights organization together with other activists. The demonstrators were in black T-shirts calling on MPs to pay tax.
Meanwhile, a radio comedian with Nation Media Group’s Q FM was arrested as he tried to present a letter to the president that calls on him (president) not to assent to the media bill. Walter Mong’are alias Nyambane was manhandled by the police and the presidential security detail as he attempted to reach the presidential dais. This drew boos and jeers from members of the public and the media-which captured the commotion live. All those arrested are currently being held at the Langata Police Station.
Kenya: Media row over new Bill
December 12 2008
By Ferdinand Wanangwe
Kenya Members of Parliament have passed a bill that will limit the liberties of the media in the country. The Kenya Communications (Amendments) Bill 2008 is feared by many that it will gag the media which has been very liberal since multi-party system in Kenya.
The Communications Commission of Kenya will now be mandated to control what can be broadcasted and when it can be broadcasted by private television and radio stations and the CCK will be required to receive guidelines from the Minister of State Security on what content they can or not cover.Media experts in Kenya are now worried that this might take Kenya back during the single party system when politicians decide what is news and what is not news. The big threat is also manifested on the stiff penalties proposed for the offences, which includes confiscating the media equipment. This is seen by many as proportionate to the seriousness of the offences.
Media practitioners say that the current breed of politicians who ascended to leadership in 2002 under NARC was helped by the media and rights groups to acquire power. “It is interesting to note that the same politicians are now fighting to kill media freedom,” a practitioner said.
But the government Minister for Communication, Samuel Poghisio, has stated that the government is committed to the freedom of the press and that the government has no intention present or in future to gag the media.
Media practitioners in Kenya are now very worried that the interpretation of the bill by future governments could differ and this will be the start of dictatorship in a country viewed by many as role model in Eastern Africa.
The country has questionable record of respecting civil liberties at personal and at media levels. A Government Minister recently told a press conference that if you rattle snake you face it. That was after an invasion in a leading media house in Kenya in which damages worth millions of shillings were recorded.
Should President Kibaki sign the bill to become a Kenyan law then the current members of parliament will regret for years having passed it in Parliament. The bill which appeared as an amendment to the already existing Kenya communications act 1998 is totally changed and can only be termed as a new law.
General opinion making rounds has it that Kenyans will only be happy if the president sends the Bill back to Parliament for redrafting so that a new ICT Bill is crafted and debated and the issues of broadcasting omitted in totality.