Friday, November 1, 2013

Fury as MPs pass Bill sounding death knell for freedom of Press

Friday, November 1, 2013 7.00 PM
3 hours ago

No, Mr President!

Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i defended the Bill but said it was still open for dialogue and review.

Fury as MPs pass Bill sounding death knell for freedom of Press

Bill by parliament proposes hefty fines for media stakeholders, practitioners

It is what we believe could take media and the country very many steps backwards reverse gains made as pertains the freedom of the media. Parliament on Thursday evening passed a new draconian media law that imposes harsh penalties on journalists. If President Uhuru Kenyatta assents to the new law it would see journalists face punitive measures for violating the code of conduct for journalists, including fines of up to Sh20 million. They also risk being deregistered and their bank accounts frozen. This happened through the introduction of a surprise change to the Kenya Information And Communication Bill, which was passed with at least 60 MPs.

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Anger and outrage on Friday greeted the passing by the Jubilee-dominated Parliament on Thursday of what was denounced as the most repressive media law in the country’s 50-year history.
A cross section of political and professional leaders said it was “in keeping with a dangerous and worrying trend by the nascent Uhuru administration to roll back the reform gains made during President Kibaki’s 10-year rule”.
Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i defended the Bill but said it was still open for dialogue and review.
The Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary promised to initiate talks on the way forward.
“I would like to make this assurance to the people of Kenya. Let us not panic. The Press is not under attack. There’s room for dialogue,” he said.
The leaders opposed to the Bill cited the stalled police reforms, the disbanding of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission at a time when the country had not completely healed from the 2007 post-election violence, and attempts to scrap the Senate, as part of a wider scheme to usher in dictatorship.
Law Society of Kenya chairman Eric Mutua said the government had resorted to intimidating those expressing dissenting views under the guise of national security.
“There is a lot of intimidation in the name of national security, which rolls the clock back to the dark days. They must adopt tolerance and accept positive criticism which, in the end, results in better governance,” he said.
He claimed that the democratic space opened President Kibaki’s 10-year watch had been closed in just six months.
“The democratic space we enjoyed under President Kibaki has been depleted by up to 50 per cent. This is worrying,” the LSK boss said. “We must be vigilant so as to maintain the gains we have made in democratisation.”
Siaya Senator James Orengo said: “The provincial administration is alive and kicking, and even stronger than it was under (retired President Daniel arap) Moi.”
He accused President Kenyatta of perpetuating an ethnic imbalance in the government.
“After the Mzalendo Kibunjia cohesion commission submitted reports of deeply entrenched ethnic imbalances in government, it had to go. This government knew that it would bring the rot to the fore,” the Senator said, faulting the leadership for failing to renew the commission’s tenure. (READ: Uhuru must say NO to architects of repression)
He claimed there was a purge of senior civil servants perceived not to have supported the Jubilee coalition during campaigns for the March 4 General Election.
Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan accused the government of stalling the appointment of commissioners to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights as part of a wider scheme to escape accountability.
“We have also seen a very dangerous reversal of the democratic gains in the move to give the Inspector-General of Police extraordinary powers and excessive discretion, which is a danger to democracy,” he said.
National Assembly Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo posed: “What sinister thing are the President and his Deputy planning to do, for which they don’t want accountability?”
Former Law Society of Kenya boss Tom Ojienda criticised the failure to implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report.
“The cohesion agenda would have been better served through actualisation of this report. I acknowledge the effort President Kenyatta has made towards reconciliation, such as when he brought together leaders from across the political divide during the Westgate terror attack, but the failure to act on the TJRC report does not augur well for him,” said the law professor.
East African Law Society president James Aggrey Mwamu said the law contradicted the Constitution and should be challenged in court if enacted.
“In Burundi, Parliament has been petitioned for trying to control the media. In Uganda and Tanzania, media houses were recently closed. They are using the law to muzzle the media,” Mr Mwamu told the Saturday Nation.
The Law Society of Kenya announced it would meet on November 7 to discuss the passing of the Bill.
Chief executive officer Apollo Mboya said: “We will examine the Bill and its implications. We will examine the implications of the amendments on the Kenya Communication Act.”
The Media Owners Association said they would go to court to stop the implementation of the Bill.
Editors’ Guild chairman Macharia Gaitho said the MPs’ aim was to punish the media for exposing their greed.
Speaking, when he paid a courtesy call on Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos in Iten Town, Mr Gaitho, who was accompanied by Nation Media Group chief executive Linus Gitahi and NTV managing editor Linus Kaikai, said the Bill was unconstitutional and draconian.
“We will urge President Uhuru Kenyatta not to assent to the Bill as this will reverse the gains we have achieved and return the country to the dark days of oppression and dictatorship,” he said.
Mr Gitahi said the media owners would urge the President not to assent to the Bill. (MATHIU: New media law myopic, vengeful and extremely dangerous)
National Council of Churches of Kenya secretary-general Peter Karanja asked President Kenyatta to reject the Bill until the contentious clauses were resolved.
“To avoid amendments in future, the President should not sign the Bill,” the Rev Karanja said by phone.
Former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth said the Bill was bad for Kenya.
“Without a free media there can be no democracy. This is why our Constitution underscores the freedom and independence of the media,” he said.
Mr Tom Rhodes, a consultant with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said: “Harsh penalties and a usurped media council that will be under the government’s thumb will undoubtedly dissipate already deteriorating Press freedom conditions in Kenya.”
Attorney General Githu Muigai on Friday said it was too early to worry about the proposed law. (READ: Kenya joins states with repressive media laws)
“We will receive the final product next week then we will evaluate the nature of it and advise the President accordingly — in accordance with the Constitution,” Mr Muigai said.
“So it is premature to get very worried.”


Outrage greets draconian Bill

The draconian amendments to the Kenya Information and Communication Bill, 2013 were yesterday met with public outrage as political leaders, members of clergy, professionals and activists called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to reject the draft law.

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Journalists oppose media law

The media fraternity in Kenya has opposed the media law passed by the National Assembly on Thursday....
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Ruto’s ICC trial may be extended beyond November 8

Deputy President William Ruto could still have a date with The Hague judges after November 8 following the postponement of the trial against President Uhuru Kenyatta. ...
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Amani coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi has condemned passing of Information and Communication Bill by members of the National Assembly on Thursday....
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Two police officers have been shot and wounded by thugs in a mid-morning shootout along Mbagathi Highway, Nairobi....
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ruto defence accuses Kibaki of betrayal

Former President Mwai Kibaki. Photo/FILE
Former President Mwai Kibaki. Photo/FILE

By Walter MenyaMore by this Author
Deputy President William Ruto Thursday accused former president Mwai Kibaki of betrayal and sowing seeds of discord by allowing ethnicity and corruption to permeate his government, leading to a vote of resentment in 2007.
Mr Ruto’s defence said the former president betrayed the high hopes Kenyans had in the Narc administration when they overwhelmingly voted for him in 2002, only for him to fail to tackle corruption and ethnicity.
Defence counsel David Hooper, who was cross-examining prosecution witness 268, said the former president also interfered with the electoral process, starting as early as 2007 when he appointed individuals who could help him retain power to the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya.
Mr Hooper cited the promises which the Narc administration failed to fulfil, including the pledge to change the constitution — a key plank of the 2002 Kibaki campaign — by turning his back against devolution of power.
He further said Mr Kibaki betrayed the memorandum of understanding he had entered into with Liberal Democratic Party leader Raila Odinga to serve one term, then support the latter for the presidency.
Mr Hooper said once Mr Kibaki got into State House, he refused to honour part of the agreement to create the position of Prime Minister that would have been occupied by Mr Odinga.
“In terms of constitutional reforms, the essential idea was that the constitution would be amended to reduce power of the president,” said Mr Hooper, adding that the victory Narc secured in 2002 was based on these promises of a better future.
“What happened subsequently was reneging on the promises he had made. Is that right?” he asked the witness, who responded in the affirmative.
Instead of fulfilling the constitutional reforms Narc had promised, Mr Hooper said, the former president went on to water down the very proposals that had been put forward, leading to the emergence of the Orange movement against the draft constitution in 2005.
Mr Hooper said even in the 2005 referendum, the people who voted for the draft constitution, which was defeated, were mainly from Mr Kibaki’s Central Province backyard.
After the referendum in 2005, Mr Hooper said, Mr Kibaki remained mainly with officials from his Kikuyu community, who surrounded him.
The lawyer said the 2005 referendum period also coincided with the time people from non-Kikuyu ethnic groups were being sacked from the civil service, the police and the armed forces.

Rodgers Vele

Awiti Masiga
Very true historical facts

    Nothing has changed from the Kibaki administration to Uhuru's because tribalism has become worse under Uhuru. Kenyans are in for a shock. Elections have consequences, wow kusema na kutenda kweli !!!!

      Dan Syanda

      imputation does not absolve ruto and company. it is, indirectly an unfortunate declaration that justifies his involvement in the point of view.

        Dedan Kimathi


        So Kenya's embarrassing tribal talk has been exported to the Hague? Maajabu ya Musa.
        Ruto blaming Kibaki for betrayal? Flashback: Ruto riding in Kibaki's official Land Rover in Eld. How time flies and selective amnesia galore!



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