News / Africa

Kenyan President to Return Disputed Media Bill to Parliament

FILE - A Kenyan reads a copy of The Standard newspaper in Nairobi.
FILE - A Kenyan reads a copy of The Standard newspaper in Nairobi.
Reuters
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta plans to send back to parliament a media bill critics say would stunt democracy in an African nation with unusually broad press freedoms.
 
Critics said Kenyatta may have acted out of concern to avoid a confrontation with Kenya's popular and vibrant media and any backlash from the country's aid donors abroad.
 
Kenyatta, who was elected in March, had earlier this month urged journalists not to panic after the initial outcry over the bill, saying he would ensure it was constitutional.
 
“Even if the bill makes its way to the president, through the formal laid-out channels, I can confirm that the president will return the bill to parliament,” presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu said on Wednesday.
 
He said Kenyatta would demand that members of parliament - which is dominated by his Jubilee coalition - ensure the legislation complies with Article 34 of the constitution stating that the “freedom and independence of electronic, print and all other types of media is guaranteed”.
 
Critics say rules laid down in the bill would curb investigative reports on corruption that plagues Kenyan public life and some media groups threatened to go to court to block it. The bill outlines fines for individuals or companies over code violations.
 
The constitution's Article 34 also allows for setting up an independent body to regulate and monitor media standards, although any formation of such a commission has also raised concerns that it could promote censorship.
 
Activists say the Kenyan media keep an indispensable check on corruption and other abuses of power, and serve as one of the few institutions that hold public officials to account.
 
Rights activists say the media in countries near Kenya, including Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda, are tightly controlled by the state authorities.
 
Another bill being drawn up by parliament, but which has also provoked public criticism in its draft form, covers non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the way they are funded.
 
Critics say the bill now under consideration could hurt NGOs that seek to hold state authorities and others to account. Many Kenyan NGOs receive support from Western or other donors.
 
Esipisu said Kenyatta would make his position clear when the bill was drawn up. But he added: “NGOs always seek a vigorous audit of funding available for government, political parties or other groups, and it must really be obvious that similar stringent audit measures should be required of NGOs.”
 
In addition, he said other democracies, such as India, had NGO regulations in place which enhanced NGO transparency.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs