The Complaints Commission of the Media Council of Kenya is currently handling a number of cases in furtherance of its mediation role. The Commission’s mandate as per the Media Act 2007 is to arbitrate in disputes between the public and the media, between the government and media as well as looking at intra-media disputes.
Twenty complaints are currently before the Commission and include high profile cases including a case between the Kenyan Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura and the Standard Group. Ambassador Muthaura had complained to the Council about an article published in the Standard Newspaper which had indicated that he (Muthaura) was part of a committee that had been formed by the government to spearhead the withdrawal of Kenya from the International Criminal Court (ICC). At that time, the country was in the global limelight following the summoning of its key leaders over their alleged involvement in the post-election violence that hit the country after the 2007 general elections.
Another case before the commission is that pitting politician Ms Nazlin Fazaldin Umar Rajput versus the Nation Media Group. Ms Umar has accused the group of inaccurate, unfair, biased and discriminatory coverage against her.
Other notable cases before the Commission include those pitting the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Jamia Mosque Committee, Esther Passaris, Martha Karua and the Prime Minister’s advisor Miguna Miguna and different media outlets.
In March this year, the Commission delivered a key judgment in a case between former security minister Dr Chris Murungaru and the Nation Television. Dr Murungaru had complained that a news item broadcast by Nation Television on the evening of 8th of February 2009 linking him with the Anglo Leasing scandal was inaccurate, unfair and biased. The Commission ruled in favour of the complainant and directed the media house to apologise to him. The Nation Media group made a formal apology on 22nd of March 2011 during its 9 O’clock News.
The Commission is headed by the Deputy Chief Justice nominee Nancy Barasa and comprises of four other persons appointed by the Council, but who are not members of the Council. The five are seasoned lawyers and communications professionals drawn from Kenya who include Professor Murej Mak'Ochieng, Ms Priscilla Nyokabi, Ms Fatuma Hirsi Mohammed and renowned journalist Mr Peter Mwaura.
The Media Council of Kenya encourages any person aggrieved by any publication or broadcast or conduct of a journalist to lodge a complaint with it. A person may do so by making a written complaint to the Council outlining their grievances.
By Jerry Abuga