Kenya Editors’ Guild: Remain firm, resist assault on media freedom

Journalists covering a press conference on 31/1/2018. [Photo/ Willis Awandu]

The Kenya Editors’ Guild has welcomed the High Court ruling directing the Government and the Communications Authority to restore transmission signals for Citizen TV, KTN News and NTV.

The three biggest broadcast TV stations were disabled on Tuesday, January 30, for defying irregular gag orders against live coverage of a major news event on that day.

“We urge all Media stakeholders – practitioners, owners and the general public – to remain firmly united in resisting the most egregious assault on media freedom in Kenya since the end of one-party dictatorship,” read part of Editors Guild statement.

The Editors noted that beyond restoration of broadcast signals, there is the issue of damages and revenue losses as a result of the disruption, adding that those responsible for this blatant violation of the law must pay the penalties.

“All must bear in mind that attacks on individual journalists or outlets that resist intimidation and censorship amount to attacks on the well-established principle of Media freedom that is protected by the Constitution and the Laws of Kenya.”

According to the editors guild, any such abrogation of Media freedoms ultimately impacts not just on the right of newspaper, television or radio station to collect and publish or broadcast news and topical events, but also robs the citizen of the right to receive information and impart information.

“It is important to note here that the attempt to justify the gagging based on the argument that coverage of the contentious presidential ‘Oath of Office’ would incite violence has been rendered nugatory by the fact that the ceremony went ahead peacefully even in the absence of security officers”.

The Editors’ Guild is now demanding that the government halts siege directed against individual journalists who are threatened with arrest tactics reminiscent of the past one-party dictatorship.

At the same time, all journalists, media houses and media representative groups were urged to stand firm in solidarity with professional colleagues and an industry under grave threat.

Media Owners Association was urged to review its ambivalent stance and support what is best for the industry.

They also cautioned that the cause of media freedom transcends loyalty to narrow political or ethnic interests, or pursuit of short-term commercial goals.

“Kenya Editors’ Guild would like to restate, for avoidance of doubt, that the statement issued on January 29 by the chairman, Linus Kaikai, reflected the position of the majority of the Executive Committee and the general membership”.