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Govt urged to stop introducing draconian laws

05 May 2015, 14:47 Mike Munga

Nairobi - Kenyan media stakeholders marked world press freedom day Monday with calls to the government to stop introducing draconian laws.

Citing Security Laws (Amendment) Act of 2014 and Information and Communication Act (2013), they said journalists are unable to carry on their duties as required because they feel as if their freedom is curtailed.

Kenya Editors guild Chairman, Linus Kaikai said it is hard for journalism to thrive if journalists sent to cover functions are assaulted by police officers - same people who are supposed to protect them.

He was referring to an incident where a reporter and a cameraman were assaulted by GSU officers in Tana River.

"It is ironical for the media fraternity to celebrate the day while another journalist based in Eldoret, John Kituyi, was murdered two days ago and the cause of the murder has not been established," he added.

The chairman warned journalists who partner with politicians to twist stories in their favour saying it is unethical to do so, and proposed proper accreditation of journalists by Media Council of Kenya in a bid to curb the vice.

Read Also: Watchdog group issues dismal report on global press freedom

Media Council of Kenya CEO, Haron Mwangi cited intimidation and harassment as the main challenges faced by journalists when executing their duties saying 15 incidences were reported in 2014.

"Journalists face harassment and intimidation from their sources. They are denied information, summoned for questioning for no fundamental reasons, their equipments confiscated and others beaten," he said.

Cabinet Secretary in charge of Information, Communication and Technology, Dr. Fred Matiang'i said the government is committed to ensuring press freedom.

Deputy President William Ruto urged journalists to practice balanced and professional reporting.

"Balanced and fair coverage of information is what the government needs," he said.

Kenya ranked Kenya position 100 out of 180 countries globally in the 2015 press freedom index listing by Reporters without Borders, dropping 10 points fro from the previous listing.

Afrobarometer survey data however shows that majority of Africans support independent news media and expect the press to play an active role in reporting on poor government performance and corruption.

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- MyNews24

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