MCK Press Releases

24th August 2016

ETHICAL ADVISORY: JEFF KOINANGE LIVE SHOW OF NOVEMBER 16, 2016

The above matter refers.

The Media Council of Kenya is an independent national institution established by the Media Council Act, [2013] for purposes of setting of media standards and ensuring compliance with those standards as set out in Article 34(5) of the Constitution.

The Council takes note of KTN’s Jeff Koinange Live show (JKL) aired on Wednesday, 16th November 2016 from 10.00PM. The host had two aspirants running for the Nairobi Governor position..

During the show, the guests used disparaging remarks against each other on air and at one point the show degenerated into a shouting match with the guests using abusive and demeaning language egged on by the host.

Whilst the Council believes in freedom of the media and expression, it is our considered view that the comments made on the show violated clause 9 on obscenity tone and taste of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism.

This is therefore to advise the producers and host of the show to be mindful of what transpires in their shows and moderate guests to avoid a recurrence of the same particularly as we head towards the elections when passions are likely to be inflamed. 

We trust that you will take the necessary remedial action.

Haron Mwangi, PhD

Chief Executive Officer & Secretary to the Council

 

 

 

HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION OF JOURNALISTS

The Media Council of Kenya is in receipt of yet other serious complaints on harassment, assault and intimidation of journalists from Members of County Assembly.

On 22nd August 2016, Jane Wangechi, a journalist, was allegedly physically assaulted and injured by Monica Njambi Kirunyu, a nominated Member of the County Assembly of Lamu County from Baharini Ward. The nominated MCA is said to have assaulted the journalist accusing her of giving the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) a video evidence to aide in a case where the MCA is facing hate speech charges before the Commission. Jane has since recorded a statement at Mpeketoni police station. (OB No. 14/22/8/16) and filled in a P3 form.

On 23rd August 2016, Standard Group journalist Lydiah Nyawira and Nation Media Group's Grace Gitau were attacked and assaulted by MCAs while covering the Nyeri County Assembly session.

Growing cases of harassment, intimidation and assault of journalists by politicians and their supporters is a worrying trend especially now as we proceed to the general elections in 2017. In July 2016, two journalists, Moses Masinde(K24) in Port Victoria, Busia County and Shaban Makokha in Kakamega County were attacked by a gang of youth during political rallies.

Such incidents are inimical to Article 34 of the constitution of Kenya which guarantees the freedom of the media and democracy in general. We urge the National Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to undertake speedy investigation and prefer the relevant charges against perpetrators of such violence against journalists.

Haron Mwangi PhD

Chief Executive Officer & Secretary to the Council

 

 

September 14 2016 

EMERGING ISSUES IN THE MEDIA

The Media Council of Kenya wishes to address a number of emerging issues touching on the media's coverage of the campaigns as well as the conduct of journalists during the electioneering period ahead of the 2017 general election.

The Council wishes to advise that media houses must let go of politicians in newsrooms; journalists and media practitioners that have declared affiliation to political parties/movements/groupings or indicated their intentions to vie for elective positions in 2017. The Code of Ethics for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya is very clear on this and related conflict of interest matters.

The Council wishes to request media houses to develop and implement social media policies. To this end, the MCK will work closely with media houses that are yet to put in place such, to develop social media policies.

While journalists, like all other citizens, have rights to be active on social media and by extension enjoy freedom of expression, they should draw the line between personal opinion in private space and walls, and views that suggest that a journalist is biased. It is unrealistic for media practitioners to spew biased opinions on their social media pages, and expect not to be viewed as partisan by people who expect to be covered fairly.

Journalists/media practitioners should avoid openly affiliating with political parties and must be perceived to be neutral. The MCK, which is mandated to accredit all media practitioners in Kenya, will withdraw the accreditation of journalists who want to work for political parties, and this withdrawal will mean that they are not authorized to work as media practitioners in the country.

All parties in a political contest, in the lead up to the elections, deserve to be covered fairly by the media. There are claims, particularly from some counties, that some politicians have influenced journalists to the extent that their competitors do not enjoy any fair coverage, and only make it to the media with negative stories. Media houses are advised to investigate these claims and take appropriate action. In the same vein, the Council wishes to request media houses to establish/ strengthen their public editors’ offices to help deal with such.

The Media Council of Kenya urges all media houses to be cognizant of the welfare of their reporters and correspondents, and to facilitate them adequately in their coverage of political events. The culture of brown envelop journalism, where news sources spend money to obtain favorable coverage, should be highly discouraged through firm action against those breaking the law.

While not strictly confined to political coverage, we are concerned about increasing incidents of journalists being physically attacked and their equipment destroyed. We call for an end to threats, intimidation and attacks on journalists.

The Council will work with relevant offices including the ODPP, DCI, IPOA and NPS to ensure that perpetrators of crimes against media practitioners are dealt with.

 

Charles Kerich,

Chairman, Media Council of Kenya

 

 

 10 August, 2016

CORRUPTION IN THE MEDIA

 The Media Council of Kenya’s attention has been drawn to the arrest of two media practitioners on allegation of receiving bribes. The two are accused of allegedly demanding for a bribe from a teacher accused of defiling a pupil in Kiambu County.  

The Council urges the relevant investigating authorities to hasten the investigations and share for appropriate action to be taken. Corruption is a serious offence under the Kenyan laws including in the Code of Conduct for the Practice of journalism in Kenya (the Code) set out in the Media Council of Kenya Act [2013].

Key tenets of the Code include Integrity and Accountability. Clause 4(3) of the Code on Integrity provides that the any person subject to the Act shall not solicit or accept gifts, favours or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage and further or engage in activities that may compromise their integrity or independence. Clause 5 of the Code on Accountability provides that a person subject to this Act shall recognize that they are accountable for their actions to the public, the profession and themselves.

Journalists and media houses found culpable of violation of the Code can be subjected to the proceedings of the Complaints Commission wherein the Commission can either (a) issue a public reprimand of the journalist or media enterprise involved, (b) recommend to the Council the suspension or removal from the register of the journalist involved (c) impose a fine of up to Ksh 100,000 and Ksh 500,000 fine to any respondent journalist or media house respectively where such a fine shall be a debt due to the Council and recoverable as such.

The Act requires all journalists practicing in Kenya to be accredited by the Media Council of Kenya. We therefore notify the general public that all journalists accredited by the Council are provided with press cards with a unique identification number. The validity of the press card can be established by sending an SMS of the press card number to 0715 000 111.

 

Haron Mwangi PhD

Chief Executive Officer & Secretary to the Council

 

 

21st July 2016
MEDIA COUNCIL OF KENYA CONDEMNS HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION OF JOURNALISTS.

The Media Council of Kenya has received several complaints of harassment intimidation and physical assault of journalists in the course of work from various parts of the country. Increasingly the perpetrators include county government security officials and supporters of various political parties.The most recent case happened on 20th of July 2016 when Moses Masinde,a cameraman with K24TV was attacked by a gang of youths during a political rally at Port Victoria, Busia County. According to Moses, the gang assaulted, stole from him and damaged his equipment. It took the intervention of the police to rescue him from the youths.The complaint has since been reported to the police. This attack comes in the wake of previous attacks on journalists in the course of their duties. We reiterate that an assault on any journalist in the course of their duties is an affront to Article 34 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, on freedom of the media. The media play a central role in enlightening the society. Therefore, any move against a free media will deny Kenyans access to information, freedom of expression and should be condemned in the strongest terms possible. The Council is pursuing the matter with relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure due process is followed and the perpetrators held responsible. Journalists are hereby advised to report any cases of harassment and intimidation to 0702 -222- 111 .We are fully committed to the safety and security of journalists in the country.

 

Haron Mwangi PhD.
Chief Executive Officer & Secretary to the Council

 

5th July 2016

Press Statement

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) have partnered to fight hate speech and promote unity in the country.

In a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed on Tuesday (July 5th 2016) at 2pm, the two organisations will partner to train journalists on all aspects of national cohesion including conflict sensitive reporting and the role of media in democracy.

MCK and NCIC will mutually conduct civic education through dialogues in Nairobi and other selected counties. The engagement will take form of debates between media practitioners and the public on media coverage of topical issues, professionalism in journalism and how this impacts national cohesion and democracy.

This comes at a time when a section of politicians have been accused and even arrested for spewing vitriol against political opponents and communities in a manner likely to stir hate and negative passions amongst members of different communities in Kenya.There have also been rising cases of violation of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of

Journalism by a section of the media while covering political events in the country. 

MCK has exceptionally noted through its media monitoring that cases of hate speech have been reported through the mainstream and social media.

Vernacular radio stations are particularly leading in propagating hate thereby abdicating their responsibility as outlined in articles 22 and 25 of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya. The Council urges journalists, politicians and the public in general to practice restraint and to uphold high standards while communicating.

It is important that all media houses establish and enforce social media policies to tame this worrying trend. Editors should take responsibility of all content published or aired

on their platforms as per article 23 of the Code of Conduct. 

We urge the media to take its rightful position and condemn persons causing unnecessary tension in the country.

Article 25 of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism particularly warns against quoting persons making derogatory remarks based on ethnicity, race, creed, colour and sex. It further advises media to consider the possible effects of hate speech before publishing or broadcasting the same.

With what the country has experienced in the past few weeks, it is time the media united and tightened its gate keeping role to save the country from descending into an abyss of chaos.

Media has an important role in informing the public on political, economic and social issues. However, this should be done responsibly to avoid creating unnecessary tension especially in the run off to the 2017 general elections.

                              

Sincerely,

HARON MWANGI, PhD

Chief Executive Officer & Secretary to the Council

 

Advisory Note on Violation of the Code of Conduct for Practice of Journalism in Kenya

16 June 2016

For Immediate Release

The Media Council of Kenya has noted with concern the rising cases of violation of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism by a section of the media while covering political events in the country.

The Council has exceptionally noted through its media monitoring that cases of hate speech have been reported through the mainstream media. In the recent past, politicians have been spewing vitriol against political opponents and communities in a manner likely to stir hate and negative passions amongst members of different communities in Kenya.

Vernacular radio stations are particularly leading in propagating hate thereby abdicating their responsibility as outlined in articles 22 and 25 of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya.

A section of journalists have also taken political sides on the social media, a situation likely to taint their professionalism and objectivity. The Council urges journalists to uphold high standards while communicating on social media. It is important that all media houses establish and enforce social media policies to tame this worrying trend.

Editors should take responsibility of all content published or aired on their platforms as per article 23 of the Code of Conduct.

Take note that the Council shall not hesitate to lodge complaints with the Complaints Commission that is mandated to take action against journalists and media houses involved in professional misconduct.

Members of the public are also encouraged to officially lodge grievances with the Complaints Commission for action.

Media has an important role in informing the public on political, economic and social issues. However, this should be done responsibly to avoid creating unnecessary tension especially in the run off to the 2017 general elections.

Article 25 of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism particularly warns against quoting persons making derogatory remarks based on ethnicity, race, creed, colour and sex. It further advises media to consider the possible effects of hate speech before publishing or broadcasting the same.

The Council urges the media to take its rightful position and condemn persons causing unnecessary tension in the country.  With what the country has experienced in the past few weeks, it is time the media united and tightened its gate keeping role to save the country from descending into an abyss of chaos.

 

Sincerely,

HARON MWANGI, PhD

Chief Executive Officer & Secretary to the Council

 

 

7th December 2015

MEDIA COUNCIL UNVEILS PRESS CARD VERIFICATION MOBILE NUMBER

System targeting rogue, unprofessional and untrained journalists

The Media Council of Kenya has launched a mobile system to expose rogue journalists in its efforts to promote professionalism in the media industry.

With the new system, one can easily establish the status of any journalist accredited by the Council through a mobile phone thus stop cases of impersonation and bribery.

There have been numerous complaints of people soliciting money in the name of journalists. On many occasions unscrupulous individuals have taken advantage of the situation to harass and get money and other favours from the public.

All you need to get full details of a journalist is sending a text message with the accreditation number of the journalist which is found below the barcode on the front part of the press card to 0715000111.

You will then receive the journalist’s details including the name, media house, position, ID number and the press card’s date of expiry.

Launching the new system on Wednesday, at Aga Khan University Graduate school of Media, Arthur Okwemba, Treasurer, Kenya Editors Guild said the number will help root out fake journalists from the system.

“The launch of this number (0715000111) is extremely important for the media industry as it will help differentiate between genuine and fake journalists,

He also urged public to cross check with the system in case they encounter journalists who demand for bribes in their line of duty.

“If a journalist asks for money from you just note the press card number, retrieve his details then pick it up with the media council and his or her supervisors,” said Mr. Okwemba.

Media Council of Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Haron Mwangi the new number will help differentiate between quack and genuine journalists in the market.

“We have so many media workers who are not accredited by the Media Council or who are not trained nor working for any media house… we needt to isolatwe culprits who spoil the good name of journalism,” said Dr. Haron.

Jane Godia, Managing Editor, African Woman and Child feature Service, said some people masquerade as journalists yet their intention in attending events is to steal.

“Now that we have a number we can use to confirm if a journalist is genuine, it will help those who deal with journalists to identify masqueraders,” said Ms Godia.

To seal loopholes in the accreditation system, the Council has been cleaning its database of registered journalists in conjunction with media stakeholders.

So far the Council has accredited over 5000 journalists. Out of these, only 2500 are active meaning the rest have either opted out of the industry or are yet to renew their press cards.

Journalists are required by law to renew press cards annually. Local journalists pay sh2000, foreign journalists, sh5000 and student sh300. To replace a lost press card one pays sh300.

 

29th May 2015

MCK SUPPORTS THE ADOPTION OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON PROTECTION OF JOURNALISTS

The Media Council of Kenya welcomes the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution on Protection of Journalists. The unanimous adoption of resolution 2222(2015) during the UN Security Council meeting held on 27th May, 2015 in New York under the agenda "Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict" chaired by the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, is a positive move towards the safety and protection of journalists. The resolution calls on member states to commit to protection of journalists during armed conflict. This resolution also affirms the role of a free, independent and impartial media as a pillar of democracy.

The Media Council of Kenya takes this opportunity to assert the centrality of media freedom in governance but notes that safety and security of journalists is now a major constraint to media freedom in Kenya. The Council is particularly concerned with the increasing number of journalists facing threats, harassment and in extreme circumstances murdered in the course of duty in Kenya. This year alone has seen over 10 cases of intimidation and harassment of journalists reported. The journalists were attacked and beaten by security forces, arrested, threatened, summoned for questioning and even killed under unclear circumstances with no follow up to date. These acts are a hindrance to the freedom of the media and freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya and trigger self-censorship in reporting.

We at the same time take this opportunity to urge journalists to maintain professionalism as guided by the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism Kenya as they undertake their duties. Journalists are also advised to take advantage of the trainings on Safety and Security and other services offered by the Media Council of Kenya. Media enterprises on the other hand should put in place policies to protect journalists.

As the body charged with ensuring the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the performance of their duties, the Media Council of Kenya supports the move by the UN Security Council to adopt this resolution affirming the protection of journalists worldwide.

Thank You.

Haron Mwangi

Chief Executive Officer,

Media Council of Kenya

 

 

DIGITAL MIGRATION DEBATE REQUIRES SOBRIETY

28 January 2015

The Media Council of Kenya is greatly concerned with the controversy regarding the digital migration process in the country. Particularly, the Council is concerned with the legal and administrative challenges that have bedeviled the exercise so far. Whereas, the Council is in full support of the digital migration exercise, we are worried that that these process will be delayed in contravention of the contemplated international agreement digital migration deadline of 30th June 2015.

The various disputes, both legal and administrative, and the delay in enacting of the access to information and data protection laws continue to constrain media  space and deny thousands of Kenyans the various opportunities this exercise will offer. The fact that commercial logic has continued to take the lead in decision making whenever there is a contestation between public and commercial interest is very worrying. Indeed public remit does not feature anywhere in this contest.

We note that the extreme positions taken by players in the industry have caused a lot of confusion in the country thus might hinder the adoption of the technology, which will be costly. The exercise has been smoothly implemented in other countries and the Council sees no reason why Kenya should be an exception.

The Council’s  view is that digital migration is important for the nation,  and therefore urge all the parties involved in the various disputes on the digital migration to find a an amicable solution so that  Kenyans can benefit from this exercise. The Council is convinced that there is room for negotiation and reaching amicable solutions to the impasse for the benefit of Kenyans.

It is worth noting that that digital migration will release spectrum for use in deployment of other ICT services such as mobile broadband and facilitate a wider choice of programmes, thereby creating diversity and plurality of content and enhance access to information.

Finally, the Council remains steadfast in upholding responsible journalism and is open to engage in talks with the various parties to these disputes with a view of arriving at a mutually beneficial and amicable solution for the good of the country.

 

Victor Bwire

Programmes Manager & Deputy Chief Executive Officer

 

PERSISTENT BREACHES TO THE CODE OF CONDUCT BY RADIO AFRICA GROUP’S STAR NEWSPAPER

15 January 2015

The Media Council of Kenya is dismayed by the continued breaches to the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya by Radio Africa Group’s Star Newspaper.

As the body mandated with promoting ethical standards among journalists and the media in Kenya, we are highly concerned with the blatant contravention by the newspaper of a number of articles in the Code of Conduct as entrenched in the Second Schedule of the Media Council Act 2013.

We are particularly incensed by the persistent publishing of offensive stories and pictures by the Star Newspaper, which continues to offend common decency and family values that we believe in as a society.We have noted a recurrent breach of several articles of the Code by the Star Newspaper including: 

  1. Article  11 on Covering Ethnic, Religious and Sectarian Conflict
  2. Article  20 on the Use of Pictures and Names
  3. Article 9 on Obscenity, Taste and Tone in Reporting
  4. Article 14 on Intrusion into Grief and Shock; among others 

While we appreciate that the country has made strides in press freedom, it is worth noting that this freedom comes with responsibility in equal measure. The Council has received a number of complaints from the public on the violations by the Star Newspaper, with many terming the paper disgusting, morally misleading and publishing stories in bad taste.  The Council has filed a number of the complaints with the Media Complaints Commission and the cases are at various stages of adjudication.

We urge all journalists to present news with integrity, decency and respect to the dignity and intelligence of the audience as well as the subjects of news.

Consequently, the Council has summoned the management of Radio Africa Group on Thursday, 22 January 2015 to explain the unprofessional conduct of its journalists before an appropriate action is taken, including a contemplated withdrawal of accreditation of its journalists and excommunication of the paper from media enterprises regulated under Media Council of Kenya.

The Media Council of Kenya advises all media houses in the country to uphold ethical practices as they go about their duties.

Grace Munjuri

Chairperson, Ethics and Public Information Committee

Media Council of Kenya 

 

 

THE MEDIA COUNCIL CONDEMNS CHARLIE HEBDO KILLINGS

8th January, 2015

The Media Council of Kenya strongly condemns the attack on the Paris satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, where at least 12 people including 10 journalists and 2 policemen were killed by masked gunmen.

The Council has termed the attack on a media enterprise and journalists as a barbaric and cowardly act aimed at stifling press freedom, which should not be tolerated. Such attack on the press, the Council says, are aimed at silencing the media yet press freedom is part of a larger right of free expression – something to be jealously preserved and guarded, regardless of the abuses of those freedoms by, or on behalf of, a small number of people.

The Council stands with the victims of the attack, their families and the people of France at this moment of mourning and wishes to remind the global community that media attacks are on the increase and action must be taken against the perpetrators of such heinous acts.

The safety and security of journalists has been an issue of concern in the recent past. Annual Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report shows that at least 60 journalists around the world were killed in 2014 while on the job or because of their work. The report released early on said the past three years have been the deadliest since the organisation started compiling such records in 1992.

Haron Mwangi

CEO Media Council of Kenya

 

MEMORANDUM ON THE SECURITY LAWS (AMENDMENT) BILL 2014

SUBMITTED TO THE CLERK OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

 

BY

MEDIA COUNCIL OF KENYA

                                                                               MEDIA OWNERS ASSOCIATION

                                                                               EDITORS GUILD OF KENYA

                                                                               KENYA UNION OF JOURNALISTS

                                                                               KENYA CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION

The Constitution of Kenya [2010] restructured Kenya's governance system with an expanded space for individual and media freedoms since Article 19 emphasizes that these rights belong to each individual and are not granted by the State. Article 2(4) of the Constitution provides that any laws inconsistent with the supreme law are void and if read together with Section 7 of the 6th Schedule to the Constitution it made it mandatory for existing laws to be reviewed to conform with the Constitution. The amendment of the Security Laws are premised on the wrong grounds since there ought to have been a fundamental review of the security laws first prior to any amendments.

 

 

Proposed Amendments

Critique and impact on freedoms

Suggested options

1

 

The Public Order Act section 5

 

5A The Cabinet Secretary may by noticein the Gazette designate the areas where, and times at which public meetings, gatherings orpublic processions may be held.

 

 

This amendment offends individual rights and freedoms. It purports to give the CS unilateral and discretionary powers to limit the freedom of assembly and movement.

 

Article 37 provides the rights of assembly, demonstrate, picket and petition without restrictions. Article 39 provides the freedom of movement of individuals.

 

The existing safeguards are sufficent whereby an organiser of a gathering notifes the concerned authorities of an intended meeting or demonstration.

 

It is the cardinal duty of the police to provide security. Given that a CS/IGP are Presidential appointees there is a danger of police abuse for political witchhunt.

2

 

Section 6 of the Public Order Act is amended—

(1A) Any person who unlawfullyconvenes, organizes or promotes apublic rally, meeting or procession orneglects or refuses to comply with anylaw relating to public meetingscommits an offence.

 

(1B) A person convicted of an offence under subsection (1A) shall, inaddition to any other penalty, be heldliable for any damage or loss sufferedas a result of such public rally,meeting or procession.

 

 

Article 38 provides for an unfettered rights to political participation and to promote a political cause only limited by Article 33(2)(d) which prohibits advocacy of hatred, violence or ethnic incitement. The amendments seek to restrict rights given by the Constitution by subjecting them to subjective criteria which can be abused to politically witchhunt opponents.

 

Proposed amendments (1B) offends Article 50 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to be presumed innocent and only punished for offences for which they have been charged and convicted. Damages at a political rally are civil in nature and a person cannot be condemned for criminal acts of third parties as a riot or unrest can cause damages.

 

The proposed amendments suggest that political rallies need permits and certifications of the authorities which is contrary to the Bill of Rights. Every individual has a right and freedom of assembly and the police only needs to be notified.

 

 

 

Persons organising public meetings cannot be condemned to pay damages or losses caused by third parties at a meeting. There are adequate civil remedies under insurance regime to cover the damages. Additionally civil damages cannot be awarded in a criminal trial without someone having been charged with.

3

Section 66 Penal Code -

 

66A. A person whopublishes or causes to bepublished or distributed obscene,gory or offensive material whichis likely to cause fear and alarmto the general public or disturbpublic peace is guilty of a felony and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years orboth, or, where the offence is committed by a media enterprise,to a fine not exceeding five million shillings.

 

 

The proposed security laws purports to amend Section 66 of the Penal Code. This introduces criminal libel laws which were made unconstitutional by Article 34(2)(b) of the Constitution which provides that the State shall not penalize any person for any opinion or view or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.

 

The Constitutional Court of Uganda in Andrew Mwenda & Ors Vs AG Constitutional Petition 12/2005 had declared criminal sedition and libel laws as unconstitutional and limiting the rights and freedoms of expression.

 

Section 66 of the Penal Code is null and void by virtue of Article 2(4) and Article 34(2)(b) of the Constitution. There are adequate remedies already in the Media Council Act 2013 to redress issues of media professional ethics with an enforceable Code of Conduct for Journalists.

 

The proposed amendments are retrogressive and cannot be said to conform with the requirements of a truly progressive, open and democratic society. This legal provision should not be in the statutes in the first place let alone being amended.

 

The Kenya Information and Communications Amendment Act has adequate safeguards to stem in rogue publishers. Criminalizing media publications is contrary to international best practices.

4

 

National Intelligence Service Act is amendedby inserting the following new section 6—

 

6A. (1) An officer of theService may stop and detain anyperson whom the officer—

 

(a) witnesses engaging in aserious offence;

 

(b) finds in possession of any object or material thatcould be used for thecommission of a seriousoffence; or

 

(c) suspects of engaging inany act or thing or beingin possession of anythingwhich poses a threat tonational security.

 

This provision falls short of the constitutional threshold and is liable to be abused. It gives an open cheque for the NIS officers to abuse individual rights and freedoms. It does not indicate where and for how long the suspects will be detained.

 

There should be clear provisions of being detained subject to being produced in court within 24hours. Article 25 of the Constitution outlaws detention without trial which cannot be limited.

 

This provision should conform with the Criminal Procedure Code and the Constitution which provides that upon arrest suspects should be forwarded to the police prior to arraignment before court. The NIS ooficers may abuse this provision and detain political opponents indefinitley without due process.

5

 

66. The National Intelligence Service Act substituting therefor

 

with the following new Part—

 

2) Where the Director-General has reasonable grounds to believe that a covert operation is necessary to enable theService to investigate or dealwith any threat to nationalsecurity or to perform any of itsfunctions, the Director-Generalmay, subject to guidelinesapproved by the Council, issuewritten authorization to anofficer of the Service toundertake such operation.

 

(c) mayauthorizeanymember of the Service toobtain any information,material, record,

document or thing and for that purpose—

 

(i) enter any place or obtain access toanything;

 

(ii) search for orremove or return,examine,takeextracts

from, make copies of orrecord in anymannerthe

information, material, record,

documentsor thing;

 

(iii)monitorcommunication;

 

(iv) install, maintainorremove anything; or

 

(v) do anythingconsidered

necessarytopreserve national

security; and

 

(d) shall be specific andshall be valid for aperiod of one hundredand eighty days unless otherwise extended.

 

The proposed amendments are unconstitutional as they go contrary to Article 31 of the Constitution. The said article provides that -

 

' Every person has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have -

 

a) their person, home or property searched;

b) their possessions seized;

c) information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily required or revealed; or

d) the privacy of their communications infringed.

 

The only limitations to the rights provided in the Constitution must adhere to Article 24 of the Constitution which provides that a right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights shall not be limited except by law, and then only to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justified in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.

 

It is unconstitutional and an illegality to infringe private communications and conduct arbitrary searches without valid court orders. This opens up the possibilities of abuse and retrogressive legal practices.

 

The Criminal Procedure Code already has provisions for issuing of search warrants under due process. The amendments seek tp unilaterally place onerous powers on a single individual who is the NIS Director-General to take adverse decisions on monitoring of private communications and conducting arbitrary searches.

 

There ought to be due process process of the law for people who will be potentially affected by such drastic decisions. Article 10(2) of the Constitution provides that the rule of law is one of the fundamental values of governance in Kenya as such there must be no criminal or prosecutorial decisions that are done outside the provisions of due court process.

6

 

The Prevention of Terrorism Act is amended byinserting the following new section immediately aftersection 9—

 

 

9A.

Aperson,whoadvocates, glorifies, advises,incitesor

facilitatesthecommission of a terrorist act or any act preparatory to a terroristact commits an offence and isliable,onconvictionto imprisonment for a term notexceeding twenty years.

 

 

The proposed amendments curtails the freedom of expression as per Article 33 and Article 32 of freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion. It is too wide and can be potentially abused. It would mean anyone wearing a T-shirt with the name 'Osama' or Arabic verses would be liable to prosecution.

 

The provison needs to be qualified to distinguish those who are actively engaged in promoting terrorism. The Act of Parliament cannot limit what is provided by the Constitution.

7

 

The Prevention of Terrorism Act isamended by inserting the following new sectionsimmediately after section 30—

 

30A.(1) A person whopublishes oruttersastatement that is likely to beunderstood as directly orindirectly encouraging orinducing another person tocommit or prepare to commitan act of terrorism commits anoffence and is liable onconviction to imprisonment

for a term not exceedingfourteen years.

 

The proposed amendments curtails the freedom of expression as per Article 33 and Article 32 of freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion. It is too wide and can be potentially abused. It would mean anyone wearing a T-shirt with the name 'Osama' or Arabic verses would be liable to prosecution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The provison needs to be qualified to distinguish those who are actively engaged in promoting terrorism. The Act of Parliament cannot limit what is provided by the Constitution.

8

 

30F. (1) Any person who,

without authorization from the

NationalPoliceService,

broadcasts any informationwhich underminesinvestigations or security

operations relating to terrorism

commits an offence and is

liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment for a term not

exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding five million

shillings, or both.

 

(2) A person who publishes

orbroadcastsphotographs of victims of a terrorist attack without theconsent of the National PoliceService and of the victim commits an offence and isliable on conviction to a termof imprisonment for a periodnot exceed three years or to afine of five million shillings, orboth.

(3)Notwithstandingsubsection (2) any person maypublish or broadcast factualinformation of a general natureto the public.

 

 

The proposed amendments offend Article 34(1) which provide that Freedom and independence of electronic, print and all other types of media is guaranteed. It further provides that the State shall not exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by an medium.

 

The proposed amendments create a situation where broadcast enterprises will be required to obtain licenses from the National Police Service prior to such publications. This creates an illegal licensure regime since the only recognized broadcast licensing is the one from Communications Authority of Kenya.

 

Article 34(3) which states that broadcasting and other electonic media have the freedom of establishment subject only to licensing procedures that are necessary to regulate the airwaves and other forms of signal distribution; and are independent of control by governemnt, political interests or commercial interests.

 

The Kenya Information Communications [Amendment] Act has adequate provisions on the regulation and control of broadcasting enterprises. It is unconstitutional and illegal to add a second layer of licensing procedures by requiring broadcasting firms to secure a permit from the National Police Service.

 

There also adequate provision in the Media Council Act 2013 and the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism to address concerns of alarming publications. The government needs to strengthen grievance institutions by empowering them to actively determine complainsts and issue penalties rather than criminalizing broadcasting or putting in place unnecesary and bureaucratic licensing procedures that would only stifle the freedom of expression and of mass media.

 

STATEMENT OF THE MEDIA FRATERNITY ON THE PROPOSED SECURITY LAWS AMENDMENT BILL 2014.

15th December 2014

 

The Media fraternity wishes to addresses itself to the continued public outcry from a diverse range of concerned Kenyans about the proposed Security Laws Amendment Bill 2014, which has been tabled in the National Assembly for debate. While we acknowledge that national security concerns are a strong justification for tightening our security related laws, some of the provisions in the proposed bill are offensive to freedom of expression and an affront to media freedom in Kenya as guaranteed in our constitution.

First and foremost, we stand and empathize with families and friends of our fallen Kenyan brothers and sisters whose lives were tragically silenced by acts of terrorism and insecurity. We pay glowing tribute to our gallant uniformed officers and other Kenyans who have paid the ultimate price and died because of insecurity. On this day, we also honor the role of a free press in creating sustainable democracies and prosperous societies. We pay special tribute to those journalists who have sacrificed their lives, freedom or personal well-being in pursuit of truth and justice.

 

We join the Government and all Kenyans in rejecting terrorism in all its form. However, it is our considered conviction that the situation cannot be dealt with by introducing extreme measures such as enacting legislation that erodes the gains made towards upholding a democratic state and safeguarded in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Terrorism should not affect the importance of freedom of expression and of information in the media as one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. This freedom carries with it the right of the public to be informed on matters of public concern, including terrorist acts and threats, as well as the response by the state and international organisations to these acts. The fight against terrorism should not be used as an excuse by states to restrict the freedom of the press.

 

Equally, we acknowledge that freedom comes with responsibility. We note that the proposed Security Laws Amendment Bill 2014 introduces clauses that undermine Article 34 which guarantees the freedom of the media. The proposed clauses seek to criminalize public broadcasting and introduces penal sanctions for broadcast content which offends Article 34(2)(b) of the Constitution which provides that the State shall not penalize any person for any opinion or view or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination. The proposed amendments introduce an illegal second layer of licensing procedures by requiring broadcasters to seek broadcasting permits from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) hence usurping the role of the Communications Authority of Kenya under Article 34(3) and Media Council of Kenya’s self-regulation role in section 34(5) of the Constitution.

 

The proposed amendment of Section 66 of the Penal Code is null and void by virtue of Article 2(4) and Article 34(2)(b) of the Constitution. There are adequate remedies already in the Media Council Act 2013 to redress issues of media professional ethics with an enforceable Code of Conduct for Journalists.

 

The proposed amendments are retrogressive and cannot be said to conform with the requirements of a truly progressive, open and democratic society.

 

 

The proposed amendments 30F (1) creates a situation where broadcast enterprises will be required to obtain licenses from the National Police Service prior to such publications. This creates an illegal licensure regime since the only recognized broadcast licensing is the one from Communications Authority of Kenya. The Kenya Information Communications [Amendment] Act has adequate provisions on the regulation and control of broadcasting enterprises. It is unconstitutional and illegal to add a second layer of licensing procedures by requiring broadcasting firms to secure a permit from the National Police Service.

 

There also adequate provision in the Media Council Act 2013 and the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism to address concerns of alarming publications. The government needs to strengthen grievance institutions by empowering them to actively determine complaints and issue penalties rather than criminalizing broadcasting or putting in place unnecessary and bureaucratic licensing procedures that would only stifle the freedom of expression and of mass media.

 

 

The provision in Prevention of Terrorism Act 30A.(1) needs to be qualified to distinguish those who are actively engaged in promoting terrorism. The Act of Parliament cannot limit what is provided by the Constitution.

 

The Media fraternity therefore calls upon the government to keep its promise by recognizing the vital role of a free press and taking the necessary steps to create a Kenyan society in which independent journalists can operate freely and without fear.

 

We also take this opportunity to further remind His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta of his occasional and un-swerved promise to Kenyans to protect media freedom and freedom of expression: to review some excerpts from his speeches:-

 

In his Inauguration speech he emphasized his government's commitment to freedom of the media when he noted that : 'In an open and free democracy, there is a vital role for a vibrant opposition that helps to hold the Government to account. Kenya is such a democracy, and as President I will respect that role just as I will champion the right of every Kenyan to speak their mind free of fear of reprisal or condemnation. I undertake to guarantee the rights of all citizens and will be protected through legislation that upholds the spirit of our constitution.'

 

Again, in his speech during the 2013 World Press Freedom Day conference, the President remarked: 'I assure the media fraternity in the country that my Government will support the media to be free, fair and responsible in conducting their business as provided for by our Constitution as well as international conventions to which Kenya is a signatory. Indeed, Kenya has set an example for Africa in terms of non- interference in media freedom. We will uphold this proud reputation.'

 

The media therefore expects the president to keep to this promise even in this opportune time that the temptation to further reign on the media would be enticing.

 

GOD BLESS KENYA.

 

MEDIA FRATERNITY IN KENYA.

 

Media Council of Kenya, Media Owners Association, Kenya Editors Guild, Kenya Correspondence Associations, Kenya Union of Journalists

 

County Governments a Serious Threat to Media Independence

28thNovember, 2014

The Media Council of Kenya, a media regulator, is greatly perturbed by the extent to which journalists working for various media houses have moved in with the county governments as consultants while still holding onto their official position as correspondents.

 

These ‘move-ins’ (double-edged journalists) draw wages and allowances from county governments, county officials and politicians while at the same time working for media enterprises. This practice has seriously compromised the independence of journalists and undermined and sabotaged media freedom and freedom of expression which we have fought for over many years.  

 

The move–ins  are  not only a threat to ethical, responsible and accountable journalism but also a hindrance to ensuring that the county governments are held accountable by the watchful eye of the media.

 

Given the fact that over 70% of news across media houses is sourced by correspondents, it is worrying that what Kenyans read, watch or listen to as news from the Counties could be nothing more than public relations news content assembled to misrepresent the actual situation on the ground.

 

Clearly, although media freedom is provided for in the Kenyan constitution chapters 33,34, and 35, media is not yet free from political and economic influence and specifically by the county governments.  Journalists are under immense political and economic pressure and if the trend is not checked media in Kenya will cease being a watchdog for the society and become a ‘lapdog’ controlled by a few political elites and capitalist barons. 

 

The move-ins should do a honourable thing; either pursue full employment with the county government or remain fully committed to journalistic work.

 

The Media Council of Kenya calls upon all the Media houses to conduct a rapid audit to establish who their correspondents are and who they work for and reign on any of their staff involved in improper and unethical conduct. We also urge them to watch over their editors who might be working in cahoots with the county government to compromise media independence.

 

The Media Council will also swiftly move to revoke accreditation earlier issued to journalists who have moved in with the County governments to undermine media freedom and independence.

 

Haron Mwangi

CEO Media Council of Kenya

 

Cautionary Note on Violation of the Code Of Conduct

15 August 2014

For Immediate Release

The Media Council of Kenya is concerned with the unethical and blatant violation of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism by a section of the media while covering cultural and private issues. We all note the cultural diversity and orientation of Kenyan people and it is therefore unethical to cover their cultural activities in a manner likely to demean their beliefs.

We are particularly alarmed by the publishing of offensive photos in the front pages of certain mainstream newspapers. We have in mind a major daily that published insensitive photographs on its front page showing a young boy agonising the pain of circumcision at the background, with his private parts exposed. On the same photo another boy, tightly held by a senior as he awaits his turn, weeps in pain. The photo violates clause 9 on Obscenity, Taste and Tone in Reporting, which states that: “persons subject to this act shall not publish obscene or vulgar material unless such material contains news”. The Council is of the strong opinion that the picture of the boy’s exposed private parts does not serve any public interest and is of no news value. The photo is embarrassing to the boys and shocking to the readers as well as demeaning the culture and customs of the community depicted.

It also violates clause 14 on Intrusion into Grief and Shock which states: “.. in cases involving personal grief or shock, inquiries shall be made with sensitivity and discretion”. In publishing the photo consideration should have been given to the sorry and desperate state of the boy in tears, before photographing him and publishing his shocking moments on the front page of a national newspaper.

Similarly, clause 20 on the Use of Pictures and Names states that: “..as a general rule, the media shall apply caution in the use of pictures and names and shall avoid publication when there is a possibility of harming the persons concerned”. “(3) Pictures of grief, disaster and those that embarrass and promote sexism shall be discouraged”. The identities of the two boys on the photograph ought to have been protected.

The Council equally encourages the media to adhere to societal norms while covering issues touching on the family.

 

HARON MWANGI
Chief Executive Officer, Media Council of Kenya

 

Middle level Colleges Offering Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies in Kenya to Undergo Evaluation 

30 July 2014

For Immediate Release

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has started the process of inspecting all middle level colleges teaching diploma in journalism and media studies in Kenya to establish whether the institutions conform to the set standards as stipulated in the Media Council Act 2013.

The Council has set up a committee comprising of scholars from the universities, lecturers from middle level colleges, Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), KASNEB and the Ministry of Education.  The Committee will commence college inspection in two months.

The Media Council Act 2013 mandates the Council to set standards for the journalism profession and inspect and accredit colleges to ensure that quality and relevance are maintained. The Council in consultation with the media industry, colleges and universities has developed a curriculum for middle level colleges teaching journalism at diploma level and which has now been vetted and certified by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

The Ministry of Education, through Technical, Industrial, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TIVET), which registers middle level colleges, has jointly with MCK developed the college vetting criteria informed by the international best practices in the journalism profession. This will ensure that all colleges have equal standards and quality and that examinations offered are responsive to emerging issues and competence requirements in journalism and media industry. It will also ensure that only those that go through this curriculum have the opportunity to practice as journalists and are good enough to pursue further professional training in the universities.

Major departure from the traditional approach to training journalists is the emphasis on competency as opposed to process enabling graduates to easily integrate and work within the dynamic media industry in terms of skills, knowledge and predisposition.

As such colleges will be expected to have enough facilities and equipment including cameras, radio and TV studios, editing suites, libraries as well as competent and qualified personnel.The Council expects the colleges to submit relevant documents immediately including registration details, location, list and qualification of key personnel and lecturers and inventory of facilities and equipment.

Under the Media Council Act 2013 section 6(1) (f), the Media Council of Kenya is required to set standards in consultation with the relevant training institutions, for professional education and training of journalists.  Section 6(1) (n) provides that the Council subject to any other written law considers and approve applications for accreditation by educational institutions that seek to offer courses in journalism.

Section 6(1) (h) of the Media Council Act 2013 requires that the Council accredits journalists and foreign journalists by certifying their competence, authority or credibility against official standards based on the quality and training of journalists in Kenya including the maintaining of a register of journalists, media enterprises and such other related registers as it may deem fit and issuance of such document evidencing accreditation with the Council as the Council shall determine. This is meant to ensure that the Council enforces professionalism and regulates the conduct and discipline of journalists in the country.

 

Haron Mwangi,Chief Executive Officer

Media Council of Kenya

 

Media Council to Train Police Force on Media Relations

30 July 2014

The Media Council of Kenya, Nation Media Group and the Public Relations Society of Kenya will from today train senior police officers from Nairobi County on police and media relations. The two- day event to be held at Kenya Police Training Centre, Ngong Road, in Nairobi is aimed at improving media and police relations as well as improving information flow on security matters in the County.

Topics to be covered will include: Public relations, media etiquette, self-conduct in the presence of media, police interaction and dealing with the public, Professional crime scene reporting and bridging the gap: police and media.

The training is part of a series of stakeholder meetings being conducted by the Media Council of Kenya and partners in efforts to identify and bridge gaps in media performance and relationships. 

Haron Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer

Media Council of Kenya

The Media   has a Crucial Role in the Extractive Industry in Kenya

 

09 July 2014

The Media Council of Kenya with support from the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) has rolled out media capacity building and public access to information on the extractive industry in Kenya. This is in pursuit of its mandate to improve media performance through topical interventions on national development issues.

The trainings and community outreach is part of the planned elaborate activities aimed at enhancing the capacity of the media has to play a substantive role  and enable Kenyans to reap the benefits from the extractive industry as provided for by law. For the media to effectively play its watchdog role, the Council feels that they must be well equipped and given knowledge to do a more in depth, investigative approach to coverage of the extractive sector.

The interventions come premised on the fact that as influential sources of information for the public, the media can guide perceptions on activities regarding the environment and natural resources within communities. Through the media, local communities can be informed on matters concerning natural resources around them, thus empowering them to effectively play their role in the implementation of local content.

For a start, trainings for media practitioners are planned as follows:

1)     Kwale - 10th  to 12th July,2014

2)     Kitui - 30th  July to 2nd  August,2014

3)     Lodwar - 13th  to 16th  August,2014

4)     Naivasha – 29th  to 31st  August,2014 

 

Haron Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer

Media Council of Kenya

Media Council of Kenya Statement on Coverage of the Mpeketoni Attack

17 June 2014

For Immediate Release

The Media Council of Kenya condoles with the families and friends of the victims of the deadly attacks in Mpeketoni town in Lamu County, where an estimated 50 people died under the hands of suspected terrorists.

While we appreciate the media’s effort in ensuring the country and indeed the whole world is informed of the situation, the Media Council of Kenya expresses its reservations on the adherence to journalistic ethics in coverage of the incident. We are particularly concerned with the blatant contravention of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism as set out in the Media Council Act 2013 by some media houses and journalists.The Media Council of Kenya, whose roles, among others, include monitoring media performance, is concerned with the breaches to the Code in coverage of the Mpeketoni attacks and other security-related incidents across the country. Specifically, the pictures published in today’s newspapers have been found to have violated clause 10 [2] on Obscenity, Taste and Tone in Reporting, which states that: “Publication of photographs showing mutilated bodies, Bloody incidents and abhorrent scenes shall be avoided unless the publication or broadcast of such photographs will serve public interest” part 3; “Where possible an alert shall be issued to warn viewers or readers of the information being published”.

The Council encourages continued adherence to the Code by the media as we continue informing the country objectively on events around the incident. In addition, we call upon media to exercise responsibility and embrace conflict-sensitive reporting.

In the meantime, the Media Council of Kenya has sent out a safety guideline for journalists covering the incident in Lamu. We encourage journalists to keep safe at all times as they cover this incident.

 

VICTOR BWIRE

Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Programmes Manager

 

Media Council of Kenya Statement on Coverage of Westgate Tragedy

 For immediate Release                                                                 23 September 2013

 

The Media Council of Kenya joins others Kenyans in condemning the heinous act by suspected terrorists that has led to the loss of lives following the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi on Saturday, 21st September, 2013. The Council sends its condolences to the families who lost their loved ones including (the Kiss TV journalist Ruhila Adatya) and wishes a quick recovery to the casualties.

We wish to commend the media for the courage and commitment they have shown in ensuring that Kenyans are updated on the events at the scene of crime and the professional manner in which the news has been conveyed under such dire conditions.

Click here for the Full Statement.

 

 

For Immediate Release 18 May 2012


MCK PRESS STATEMENT ON ACCREDITATION OF JOURNALISTS

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) is an independent national institution established by the Media Act 2007 as the leading institution in the regulation of media and in the conduct and discipline of journalists and the media in Kenya. It is mandated to among other things; promote high professional standards among journalists, register and accredit journalists and media establishments and ensure safety and protection of journalists.

Our attention has been drawn to the requirement by organizers of an event scheduled for this weekend that journalists covering the event need to apply for accreditation. The Media Council of Kenya wishes to state categorically that it finds such conditionality for covering a news event a violation of the fundamental right of journalists to access information as guaranteed in our laws.

The Council is the only body mandated to register all journalists practicing in Kenya in accordance to sections 4(k), 13(2), 19(1) and 36 of the Media Act 2007. This process facilitates the authentication of genuine journalists from the “quacks” and also ensures the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the performance of their duties. We therefore wish to clarify that journalists already accredited by the Council and who hold the MCK card need no further clearance to access sources and events in this country.

Further, we want to state that providing lunch or any other form of inducement that may be construed to be designed to influence the work of a journalist is expressly prohibited by the following articles in our Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya (as enshrined in the Second Schedule of the Media Act 2007):

Independence which provides that: “Journalists should defend the independence of all journalists from those seeking influence or control over news content. They should gather and report news without fear or favour, and vigorously resist undue influence from any outside forces, including advertisers, sources, story subjects, powerful individuals and special interest groups. Journalists should resist those who would buy or politically influence content or who would seek to intimidate those who gather and disseminate news”.

Integrity which provides that: “Journalists should not accept gifts, favours or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage as well as engaging in activities that may compromise their integrity or independence”.

For purposes of enforcing its mandate, the Council shall only recognise dully accredited journalists by the Council. We therefore urge government institutions, other organisations, the public and other news sources to only recognise journalists who are identifiable upon production of a press card issued by the Media Council of Kenya. Accreditation of journalists by the Media Council is currently ongoing and information can be obtained from the Council as well as from its website www.medacouncil.or.ke

For further information contact, Haron Mwangi, Executive Director, Media Council of Kenya on +254 20 2737058, +254 202725032, +254727735252


Haron Mwangi
Thank You.