AP Photo/Khalil Senosi
On Wednesday the Kenyan parliament passed a bill will hold journalists liable for defamation if they publish reports on proceedings in parliament that are considered inaccurate.
Journalists found guilty of defamation will face up to two years in jail or a fine not cannot exceed SH500,000, or both.
The Standard described the law passing as a “dark day in [the] graft war” and wrote that MPs had “openly declared their hatred for freedom of the press.”
These restrictions on the media are part of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges bill. The Kenya Correspondents Association said the bill violates Article 34 of the constitution, which they wrote, “guarantees press freedom and by extension, violates Article 35 of the Constitution which empowers citizens to access information.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the bill. The CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine said, “This bill has no place in a democracy.”
“The public has a right to hear news and criticism of what is discussed in parliament and how members conduct themselves.”
Valentine urged Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to respect the freedom of the press and the role that the media plays in ensuring the free flow of information.
The bill is a worrying step in the wrong direction for journalism in Kenya, Majority Leader of the National Assembly of Kenya, Aden Duale told The Star that the bill was both “scandalous and serious”. He continued to say that the provision amounts to gagging the media when they cover Parliament.