The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the passage late Wednesday by Kenya’s national assembly of a bill that would impose a harsh fine or two years in jail, or both, for a journalist who is found guilty of defaming the Kenyan parliament or its members.
The bill must be approved by the senate and the president before it can become law, according to news reports.
“This bill has no place in a democracy,” said CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine. “The public has a right to hear news and criticism of what is discussed in parliament and how members conduct themselves.
“We urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to live up to his promise to respect press freedom and the role of the media in ensuring the free flow of information.”
The Kenya Correspondents’ Association issued a statement that said the bill violates articles in the country’s constitution which guarantee press freedom and access to information.
In July, CPJ released a special report, “Broken Promises: How Kenya is failing to uphold its commitment to a free press,” which found that a combination of legal and physical harassment is making it increasingly difficult for journalists to work freely in the country.
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