News / Africa

Spokesman: Kenya’s President Committed to Press Freedom

FILE - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta reacts as he attends Mashujaa (Heroes) Day at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Oct. 20, 2013.
FILE - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta reacts as he attends Mashujaa (Heroes) Day at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Oct. 20, 2013.
Peter Clottey
Manoah Esipisu, Kenya’s government spokesman, says President Uhuru Kenyatta is committed to press freedom as outlined in the constitution. 

Comment comes as journalists protest some clauses in a controversial media measure that parliament passed in late October.

Esipisu says Kenyatta is following the constitution, which calls for an independent media regulator that is not subject to government, political or commercial influence. 

“The president believes that we have to conform to the constitution, [which] says media can’t regulate itself. And that the journalist must understand that you bear responsibility for what you do,” he said. “Having fines in the legislation just reminds all of us, who are objective journalists, that there are penalties for people who are a bit careless or who go out of their way to [break] the law.”

Esipisu says Kenyatta has called for the nomination of individuals to establish the independent group to oversee the media.

Kenyatta vetoed the initial legislation last week, but he retained some of its clauses and returned the bill to parliament for review.  On Tuesday journalists protested and said if passed the new law could be used to muzzle the press, undermining constitutional guarantees of media freedom.

Esipisu disagreed.

“The idea that anyone wants to muzzle the press is indeed far-fetched,” he said. “This constitution has a timeline for legislation and this piece of legislation … has to come on stream by the end of this month. But the provisions that are in there all conform to the constitution promulgated in 2010.”

If established, the media-regulating body would review complaints in addition to penalizing the media for offenses.

Kenyatta has proposed fines of about 500,000 shillings [or $5,000] per journalist or a maximum of 20 million shillings [or $240,000] for any media group that violates the code of journalistic conduct, according to Esipisu.

David Ohito, a leading member of Kenya’s Editor’s Guild, expressed disappointment with Kenyatta’s proposal to “The Standard” newspaper.

“We are not happy and satisfied with the way the bill is. It is us who will suffer if it is passed as it is…We will profile those who will stand by us and those who will be against us,” he said. “They should not take us back to the past dark days of repression against free media.”

Some observers have called for an independent group, comprised of media professionals, to regulate the press instead of the plan lawmakers and Kenyatta propose.

But, Esipisu says the suggestion contradicts clauses of the constitution.

“The idea that journalists should regulate themselves would be a noble one, [and] that is how it has previously happened, but the constitution doesn’t allow us,” he said. “Journalists, somehow three years after the promulgation of the constitution, have suddenly found out that [it] does not allow self- regulation…The president or parliament [do not want] to muzzle the media.”

Clottey interview with Manoah Esipisu, Kenya government spokesman
Clottey interview with Manoah Esipisu, Kenya government spokesmani
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: James Ruei Majok from: Unity state Bentiu.south
December 04, 2013 7:13 AM
I wish UN to intervene quickly because if no more troops to be deployees it mean there will be no good solution in the country i beg all UN forces to operate peacefully in the country !!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid