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KUJ terms 'referendum oath'rule an affront to media freedom

By | July 27th 2010

By James Ratemo

Journalists have protested a requirement by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) to take an oath of secrecy to cover the upcoming referendum.

In a letter to IIEC Chairman Ahmed Isaak Hassan, the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) Secretary-General Eric Orina wants the requirement dropped.

He terms it unconstitutional and an affront to media freedom.

"We are deeply disturbed by the unconstitutional act by your commission meant to muzzle the press and interfere with journalists’ duty to be the eye and ear of those who are not present when your commission is discharging a very important mandate on behalf of the people of Kenya," said Mr Orina.

The union argues that journalists have their own code of ethics and are mandated to be truthful and transparent.

Five year jail term

"We warn you that should you fail to do so, we shall take action to ensure the commission respects the law," the letter adds.

In the oath document, it is illegal to divulge information regarding ballot papers or the voting process before the poll is closed and contravening the provisions means an offence liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

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