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Journalists back in court to challenge 'oppresive' media law

22 January 2014, 19:30 Victor Tinto

Nairobi - Journalists are back in court to challenge the controversial media laws assented to by president Uhuru Kenyatta in December.

The journalists and media houses want the Kenya Information and Communication Act and the Media Council Act 2013 declared unconstitutional and reversed.

Led by renowned lawyer James Orengo, the Kenya Union of Journalists, the Correspondents Association and the Editors Guild want the laws removed, citing constitutional grievances over the laws.

They say that the laws restrict the basic access to information and freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution.

Added to that, the journalists want the upcoming recruitment of the members of the Media Council of Kenya and Communication and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal as required by the new law stopped immediately.

" The establishment of two bodies that do a similar job and operate in a parallel fashion is first of all unconstitutional and is meant to oppress the media and the fundamental rights of Kenyans as regards information and access to it, Orengo said.

The petition also seeks to address the charges journalists will face in the event they are deemed to be in violation of the law, a clause which Orengo termed as backward.

" The law will bring under duress journalists and their basic right to function in a free and fair environment which is a constitutional right, he added.

President Kenyatta ascended to the media laws in December, despite consultation between stakeholders and lobbying by journalists to both the national assembly and state house over the then bill which has been described as draconian and excessive.

- News24

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