The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) is alarmed by the blatant disregard of the law in respect to media freedoms and freedom of expression in the country by the Kenyan Government. In a statement issued yesterday, BAKE said that through “moves that return the country to its dark past, the Government is enhancing regressive practices that infringe on fundamental rights of Kenyans.”
“Allegations that the President and his Deputy summoned media managers at State House to order them how to cover various events including the swearing in of opposition leader Raila Odinga have come to pass. It should be noted that Article 34 (2) (a) of the Constitution affirms that the State shall not exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium. In addition, part (b) adds that the state shall not penalize any person for any opinion or view or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination,” the statement signed by BAKE chair Kennedy Kachwanya noted.
(TOP: Kennedy Kachwanya, the BAKE chair. Photo: Mwende Ngao).
“Today’s crackdown on media channels by switching off Television Stations on Free-to-Air platforms is unfortunate. It adds to an already poisoned environment in which the government is averse to criticisms and scrutiny.”
BAKE said that threats against media houses is a threat against freedom of expression both online and offline, adding that this is also a threat against access to information.
“It is of national interest that media operates freely and Kenyans receive information from diverse sources to inform their decisions… BAKE condemns with the strongest words possible, purported instructions from State House, threats of shutdown and revoking of licenses targeted at the media. The association encourages media, bloggers, editors and journalists in general to uphold high integrity, professional ethics and undertake their duties without undue influence, direction and authority from government,” noted BAKE.
The statement came on the day when the government, through communications industry regulator switched off transmitters of two TV stations – NTV and Citizen – while others were barred from relaying a rally by the opposition NASA during which its flagbearer Raila Odinga took oath as the People’s President.