VIENNA, Nov 12 2013 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today welcomed indications that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will not sign a controversial media bill that was approved by parliament last month.IPI further urged lawmakers to abandon other efforts to assert more government control over the media.
William Oloo Janak, chairman of the Kenyan Correspondents Association, told IPI that the president is expected to formally return the Information and Communications Amendment Bill to parliament. A presidential adviser told the Daily Nation that Kenyatta declined to sign the legislation on grounds that it conflicted with constitutional protections for press freedom. IPI and Kenyan media organisations say the draft law would give a government-appointed panel the authority to determine who can work as a journalist and to impose fines for violating a new code of conduct.
“President Kenyatta must stand firm against legislation that would give the government unconstitutional influence over journalists,” said IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie. “Part 2 of the Constitution specifically bans state interference in the news media or state-imposed penalties for reporting the news. The next step is for the Parliament to scrap its plans to insert political control over decisions that properly belong in newsrooms or in Kenya’s independent media organisations.”
"The president is right to reject the bill,” said Joseph Odindo, chairman of the Media Council of Kenya and Editorial Director of the Nation Media Group. “When he returns it to parliament, we hope the MPs will consult the industry and draw up a law that promotes open government and free expression. Every law should be consistent with the Constitution."
To follow the progress of this process follow this link.