The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) have today condemned in the strongest terms possible the assenting of the President’s signature to the Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill 2013, which was passed by the National Assembly on 5 December, 2013 despite huge opposition from members of the media fraternity in Africa and beyond.
According to the Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) an affiliate of the IFJ and FAJ, “The President is reported to have signed the Bill into Law on Wednesday, 11 December, setting the stage for the gagging of the media and the slapping of hefty fines on journalists and media houses”.
The President of the KCA, William Janak Oloo in a statement issued on Tuesday, 17 December, said “The situation is grim and the impact of this law will be to intimidate journalists so that they do not report about sensitive political issues and corruption related cases that require investigative journalism”.
The President of FAJ, Mohamed Garba said that the signing of this Bill by President Uhuru Kenyatta is an abhor to democracy and a total disregard of the internationally recognised standards for the promotion and protection of the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press in particular.
“Such obnoxious laws are nothing but tools of intimidation and harassment that are designed to suppress journalists and prevent them from performing their duties professionally” added Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office.
The Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill 2013 “creates a communication and multimedia Appeals Tribunal with powers to impose huge financial penalties of up to US $ 240,000 on any media enterprise deemed to have violated the law.
In the same vein, the tribunal will also impose a fine of US $6000 on journalists adjudged to have violated the provisions of the law.
The IFJ and FAJ strongly believes that this move by the Kenyan authorities is a serious setback to the gains made by the media in Kenya, a country that boast of the largest media network in the Eastern Africa region. The Bill is designed to stifle and intimidate dissent and thus a crude strategy to deny and stave the Kenyan citizens from receiving information.
The Kenyan Government MUST re-consider this decision as the provisions of the Bill are a blatant violation of the international treaties that guarantee the freedom of expression, most especially the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. For more information, please contact: +221 33 867 95 86/87
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries
FAJ represents more than 50.000 journalists in 40 countries in Africa