Kenya's press freedom deteriorating

Committee to Protect Journalists' report says Kenyan government has developed “press phobia”

Kenya's press freedom deteriorating

World Bulletin / News Desk

 According to a special report released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in Nairobi, the Kenyan government has failed to uphold its commitment to a free press environment.

The report said that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has developed a “press phobia”, leading the government to enact new laws to gag the press in contravention of the Kenyan constitution, which guarantees media freedom.

It is not uncommon for journalists in Kenya to be targeted by politicians and arrested.

The latest case was a reporter who was harassed and arrested Tuesday for his critical social media posts against a certain member of parliament.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency during the launch event, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said that although the Kenyan constitution protects journalists, President Kenyatta’s government has introduced new bills that curb that freedom.

"Unfortunately, we found that there are laws in the books and a climate of intimidation against journalists that has made it more difficult for journalists to exercise their essential role," Simon said.

"The government needs to meet its constitutional and international commitments," he said, adding that Kenya should have a legal environment conducive to free expression.

"We need to see legal reforms, we need to see a more open and tolerant environment for the media, we need to see the government address the threats and violence against journalists and ensure that those who perpetrate violence against the media are brought to justice," he said.

Simon claimed that at least one journalist is attacked every week in Kenya.

"This is a very worrying development and it reinforces the need for the government to investigate these attacks and to ensure information flows freely throughout the country," he said.

According to the CPJ, five journalists have been killed in Kenya in the past five years -- all of whom were working or had worked on political stories.

During British colonial rule, there was total suppression of press freedom, a phenomenon that was assimilated by postcolonial governments.

Today, Kenya has a better press freedom record than other countries in East Africa, according to some CPJ members.

“Kenya’s press record has been brilliant in East Africa -- that is if you look at what happened in Burundi and Rwanda, not to mention what is going on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, and Somalia," Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists told Anadolu Agency.

"In fact, in comparison to these countries Kenya’s press looks wonderful," he said. "The problem is that it is at a precipice and could easily fall over the edge if more of these laws are enacted to suppress the press."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Temmuz 2015, 16:11