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Parliament set to discuss media bills before President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposals are considered

By ROSELYNE OBALA
Updated Tuesday, December 3rd 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3
A journalist in Nakuru poses with handcuffs and a camera Monday. Journalists across the country will Tuesday hold silent protests against the proposed draconian media laws.  [PHOTO: BONIFACE THUKU/STANDARD]

By ROSELYNE OBALA

NAIROBI, KENYA: Journalists will Tuesday stage countrywide protests to register their disquiet with the draconian media bills.

At the same time, CORD will hold a special Parliamentary Group meeting to discuss the President’s memorandum on the KICA Bill ahead of debate in Parliament this afternoon.

In Nairobi, members of the Fourth Estate will congregate at Nation Centre along Kimathi Street and head to the Office of the President, Deputy President, Attorney General and finally in Parliament.

Editors Guild Vice Chairman David Ohito and Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) Chairman Oloo Janak confirmed the meeting. They spoke after meeting Parliament’s Energy and Communication Committee.

 “The demonstrations are countrywide. The bills are bad; they are gagging the media with their draconian provisions. The Media Owners Associations and the Kenya Editors Guild are with us on this journey,” Ohito stated.

COUNTY LEVEL

Janak affirmed that all journalists have been mobilised at the county level and in major towns.

“Preparations are complete and we have put measures in place to ensure it becomes a success and all our colleagues are part of the protest,” said Janak.

Journalists also appealed to MPs to shoot down the oppressive bills, emphasising the matter is of national importance.

“We call on MPs wherever they are to be present in Parliament to deliberate on the matter before they go on recess. Let them address the contentious and controversial clauses,” urged Ohito. Media stakeholders want the current proposed fine reduced to Sh100, 000, down from the Sh500,000 that was to be imposed on any journalist who breached the law and that imposed on media houses reduced to Sh500,000, down from Sh20 million.

“They want complaints against journalists handled by an Ethics Complaints Committee or the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and not the proposed Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal with sweeping powers as proposed in the Bill,” said Ohito.

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