By JOHN OYWA
Press freedom in Kenya came under the microscope amid calls to local journalists to jealously guard the democratic space created by the new Constitution.
In speeches marking the sixth anniversary since goons raided the Standard Group in one of the worst media attacks in Kenyaâs history, leading personalities said the media was not out of the woods yet, despite gains already made.
The Groupâs Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Melly, Senior Counsel Paul Muite and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Isaack Hassan told journalists that the destiny of the media industry lay on its integrity, self regulation and constant check on the Government.
"You have made some gains in press freedom, but you are not out of the woods yet. Some anti-reform agents may still turn back the clock," Mr Muite told journalists assembled at The Standard Group Centre on Mombasa Road Friday.
He added: "I am asking the media to be careful with the Bills on Press Freedom because they may be diluted. You must ensure Article 34 on Media Freedom and Article 35 on access to information are not interfered with."
Mr Melly said the media must exhibit and maintain integrity, objectivity and play a role as the peopleâs watchdog as the country edged closer to the next General Election.
"As we commemorate the darkest day in our history, I want to tell the media to exhibit values that are key in defending press freedom," said Melly.
He added: "Journalists must free themselves from influence and remain focused. They must remain passionate in what they are doing and resolve never to be af raid of standing with the public."
Group Chief Editor John Bundotich said the media house had a strong resolve to continue advocating and defending press freedom, adding that while there was gradual progress in that regard, much remains to be done.
"We still have unfinished business that includes enactment of media laws to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution and access to information," he said.
Bundotich reiterated that the media houseâs channels would continue to be independent of any vested interests, and in a balanced and fair manner.