Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in Kenya has condemned the passage of a bill by Kenya’s National Assembly that would impose a harsh fine or two years in jail, or both, for a Journalist who is found guilty of defaming the Kenyan parliament or its members.
Kenya’s constitution guarantees freedom of the media, but President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition has introduced several bills that undermine rather than enforce that principle. Journalists are vulnerable to legal harassment, threats, or attack, while news outlets are manipulated by advertisers or politician-owners.
According to the CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator, Sue Valentine, the bill has no place in democracy; stating that, the public has a right to hear news and criticism of what is discussed in parliament and how members conduct themselves.
The group further urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to live up to his promises to respecting press freedom and the role of the media in ensuring the free flow of information.
In a remark, the Kenya Correspondents’ Association criticized the bill and said it violates the articles in the country’s constitution which guarantee press freedom and access to information.
Earlier in July, 2015, CPJ released a special report, titled ‘Broken Promises: How Kenya is failing to uphold its commitment to a free press,’ where it emphasized that, a combination of legal and physical harassment is making it increasingly difficult for journalists to work freely in the country.