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Group reads mischief in new broadcast regulations

BUSIA
By | January 13th 2010

By Ramadhan Rajab and Robert Wanyonyi

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has condemned the new broadcasting regulations, terming them malicious and outdated.

Vice chair Hassan Omar said the rules were an attack on democracy and an affront to human rights.

The commission said it would only support self-regulation through the Media Council of Kenya.

"We oppose the law in total, as it is an assault to the media, retrogressive, suspicious and contravenes freedom to hold opinions," Mr Omar said.

He urged media practitioners to defy the new rules.

Omar said by gazetting the law after it was withdrawn last year to iron out contentious issues, the Government was not committed to institutional and constitutional reforms.

Self-regulation

The commission called on the Government to degazette the law and focus on establishing frameworks through the Media Council of Kenya to provide redress to those aggrieved by the media.

"We don’t want a media that has been chained, always singing State antics," Omar said.

He also faulted the media for not being persistent in piling pressure over reform issues they highlight.

"The media has chosen short-term headlines, hence the Government takes opportunity of lack of sustainability to sneak in such draconian laws," he said.

He added: "The law was gazetted but not in the interest of the country. It is risky for the Government to continue showing disregard to public opinion. Kenyans demand more accountability and that’s why a vibrant media is essential."

Meanwhile, a human rights group in Western Province has expressed disappointment over the gazettement of new laws gagging the media.

Mwatikho Torture Survivors Organization director Taiga Wanyanja said the new laws, which came into effect on January 1, were repressive and aimed at muzzling the media.

"This is something that must be resisted by Kenyans who value the good work by the media in highlighting bad governance and corruption," he said in a statement.

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