Kenyan media is headed to the dogs after the new government passed a bill to restrict media freedom in the land, imposing fines of up to $230,000 to media firms and also heavily limiting foreign content from our airwaves.
The bill was passed yesterday evening, amidst anger and opposition from the public and the media fraternity which had earlier called for its amendment.
The bill passed by the Kenyan parliament requires media firms to adhere to Code of Conduct for journalists or face fines of up to Ksh20 million (about $234,000), deregisteration and eventually having their bank accounts frozen. This is stipulated in the Kenya Information and Communication Bill which was into law yesterday.
The parliament also set up a Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal which will have powers to fine media houses and/ or journalists not adhering to the law. Journalists who do not adhere to the law or the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism. will be fined not more than Sh1 million (around $12,000). The tribunal has powers to take over the respondents property or bank accounts and can sell them to settle the fine.
Tribunal can also unregister the media firm or journalist from practice and the tribunal has the powers to do anything to make the law work.
However, Kenyans are not silent about the law.Musalia Mudavadi, a former presidential candidate has spoken out against the law asking the president to be sober and not to assent to the bill calling it a punitive act against Kenya’s economy and the journalism profession.
In a statement, Mudavadi condemned the National Assembly for taking Kenya back into a one-party state and arrogantly using the Constitution to curtail people’s rights instead of enhancing them.
“The National Assembly must be reminded that its legislative authority is a delegated one derived from the people. The National Assembly resolves issues of concern to the people. The Constitution does not envisage situations where the National Assembly turns tables and abrogates the people’s rights and freedoms.”
Follow this link to read the entire bill.