By James Ratemo
Members of the public who have grievances against the media finally have a reason to smile.
The Media Council has a new Complaints Commission.
Mr. Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications gazetted the new Commission on Monday October 3rd 2016 through a special gazette (vol. CXVIII- NO. 118).
These are the members of the new look commission:
Timothy Mwangi Kariuki—(Chairperson)
Henry Omusundi Maina,
Esther Jowi Anyango Aduma,
Abdi Mohamud Hassan,
Gladys Kwamboka Oyaro,
Philip Mbaji Kaulu.
The members will be in office for three years.
There are close to 100 cases that have piled up at the Commission awaiting determination.
Arbitrating disputes is the cornerstone of the Media Council, and without the Complaints Commission, the Council was somehow handicapped.
Role of the Complaints Commission:
The Commission’s mandate is to arbitrate disputes between (a) Public and the Media (b) Government and media (c) Intramedia disputes.
The Complaints Commission is established under section 27 of the Media Council Act 2013. The Commission is comprised of Six (6) members and a chairperson. The Commission’s core function is mediation and adjudication of disputes between the media and the public, the government and intramedia.
The jurisdiction of the commission is limited to disputes arising out of violations of the code of conduct for the practise of journalism set out in the of the Act or anything done against a journalist or media enterprise that limits or interferes with the constitutional freedom of expression of such journalist or media enterprise.
Upon hearing a dispute the Commission can make any or a combination of the following orders
- order the offending party to publish an apology and correction in such manner as the Commission may specify;
- order the return, repair, or replacement of any equipment or material belonging to a journalist confiscated or destroyed;
- make any directive and declaration on freedom of expression; issue a public reprimand of the journalist or media enterprise involved;
- order the offending editor of the broadcast, print or on-line material to publish the Commission's decision in such manner as specified by the Commission;
- impose a fine of not more than five hundred thousand shillings on any respondent media enterprise and a fine of not more than one hundred thousand shillings, on any journalist, adjudged to have violated the Act or Code of Conduct, where upon such a fine shall be a debt due to the Council and recoverable as such;
- in its reasons for its findings, record a criticism of the conduct of the complainant in relation of the Complaint, where such criticism, is in its view, warranted;
- recommend to the Council the suspension or removal from the register of the journalist involved;
- make any supplementary or ancillary orders or directions that it may consider necessary for carrying into effect orders or directives made.