Don’t muzzle media, respect Constitution: SAMDEN urges Kenyan govt

New Delhi, 6 February 2018:The South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) today condemned what it called “increasing authoritarianism in Kenya and assaults on the press.”

In the past week, the administration of recently re-elected Uhuru Kenyatta terminated TV broadcasts by a number of media houses for almost a week. The Government disregarded a subsequent court order to lift the ban and complied only when threatened with contempt of court.
Kenya, earlier known for its robust media, is no longer so. “It is unacceptable that the media now fears arrests, harassment, and shut down of television channels just because it is performing a professional duty,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director of CHRI, representing SAMDEN, which has international editors, journalists, professional media members, and writers.

They include such as Mehfuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star of Dhaka, Rita Payne, journalist and media advisor, President Emeritus, Commonwealth Journalists Association, Mrinal Pande, veteran Indian editor and author, Salil Tripathi, columnist, author and chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, London, Sujay Gupta, group editor, Herald Publications, India, Kalpana Sharma, independent journalist, columnist, writer and Sofia Hultqvist, project leader Bangladesh, FOJO, Sweden.

Independent media stations, such as Citizen TV, Inoora TV, Kenya TV Network and NTV (owned by the Nation Media Group), have faced censorship while Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, state-owned television channel, and K24 were allowed to continue broadcasting. K24 is owned by Mediamax, of which the Kenyatta family are one of three shareholders.

SAMDEN urges international partners, civil society and other stakeholders to place pressure on President Kenyatta to respect Kenya’s Constitution, reverse authoritarian trends and hold violators of human rights to account.

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