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Kenya Parliament Pass Controversial Media Bill

 6 December 2013

The Kenya Parliament on 5th December passed the contentious Kenya Information and Communication Amendment Bill 2013.The bill had previously been taken to the president to sign into law but he returned it to parliament with suggested amendments. The amendments seen as curtailing press freedom were rejected by journalists and media stakeholders in the country.
An attempt by media stakeholders to marshal support from opposition and like-minded members of parliament to get a two thirds majority in parliament needed to reject the amendments failed as government allied members of parliament voted unanimously for the bill.

The bill among other contentious clauses inflicts a Sh20 million maximum fine for media houses and Sh500, 000 for journalists who contravene the new regulations. It also grants the President and the Cabinet Secretary for Information and Communication the final say on who will sit in the Communications Authority of Kenya, and the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal, two major bodies that will manage the communications sector, regulate content, and punish journalists and media enterprises. The net effect is a law that severely restricts press freedom and breaches the constitutional protections granted journalists.

On Tuesday Journalists took to the street condemning the amendments and called for Parliament to reject the amendments. Media stake holders then met parliamentary committee on Energy, Information and Communication in an attempt to strike a deal that would have seen contentious clauses removed from the bill.

“This is a major setback to the freedom of the press and totally unacceptable. We reject this attempt to muzzle the press and call for the rejection of the amendments by the President’’said Henry Maina, Article 19 East Africa. The Bill will be presented to the president who will sign it into law.


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