IFJ Opposes New Media Bill in Kenya

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

today urged the Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki not to sign into the law the

Kenyan Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008 that was recently passed by the

Kenyan Parliament.

"The ICT Bill is a deliberate attempt to undermine and

eventually remove the independence of the media in Kenya,"

said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. "The Bill as it is, blatantly

disregards the rights to freedom of expression and press freedom as enshrined in

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and echoed by other international

conventions that the Kenyan Government has signed and ratified, including the

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights."

According to a press release issued by the East

African Journalists Association (EAJA) which is affiliated to the IFJ and

monitors press freedom in the region, "the Media Bill which was passed by the

Kenyan Parliament on Wednesday, would introduce direct media censorship by the

government and will give authority to the Interior Minister to declare a state

of emergency and seize broadcasting equipment of any media house."

"Censorship is derogatory to the work of the media and

hence cannot be accepted in a democratic country. The independence of the media

must be respected in order for the media to perform its role professionally.

The Kenyan media is noted for its vibrancy and such a Bill will only stifle its

development," added Gabriel Baglo.

The IFJ therefore urges President Mwai Kibaki not to

sign the Bill into law, but to send it back to the Parliament for reconsideration

in accordance with internationally recognised standards so that Kenya

can build up and strengthen the democratic gains and ideals that it has

achieved over the past few years.

For more information contact the IFJ

at + 221 84 201

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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 123 countries worldwide