Media shut down for covering the opposition speeches : an unacceptable censorship.

Press release

(Paris, Nairobi). As Kenya’s opposition coalition leader Raila Odinga was organising an oath ceremony on 30 January 30, 2018, to declare himself the ‘people’s president’, authorities cut the live transmissions of the event by four broadcasters. One week after, Citizen TV, has still not been allowed to resume its broadcast. FIDH and The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) fear journalists and civil society will once again bear the costs of the contested elections’ results and urge Kenyan authorities to ensure respect for freedom of expression and press.

Upon government’s order, on 30 January 2018, officials from the Communications Authority and the police switched off transmitters, while the stations were broadcasting live coverage of Odinga’s presidential oath in Nairobi. Four privately owned TV stations, Citizen TV, Inooro TV, Nation Media Group’s NTV and the Standard Group’s KTN News, were targeted and were unable to broadcast until 5 February. despite a high court conservatory order on 1 February 2018 suspending the broadcasting ban on the four TV stations. While the rest have since resumed broadcasting, Citizen TV has not.

The order to cut TV transmissions came after the government warned the media - first in November last year and then more recently - not to provide live coverage of events of Odinga’s political formation. Indeed, on 26 January 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta and other senior government officials summoned media managers and editors and threatened to close their stations down and revoke their licenses if they broadcasted Odinga’s oath live.

In addition, fearing arrest as police officers surrounded the headquarters of the National Media Group, on 31 January 2018, NTV’s journalists Linus Kaikai, Larry Madowo and Ken Mijungu spent the night in the newsroom.

Already, ahead of Kenya’s 2017 elections, several human rights defenders involved in monitoring, documenting and observing the electoral campaign and primaries were physically attacked or harassed, threatened, and even arbitrarily arrested. Journalists and human rights defenders were also barred from documenting, entering or forced to leave campaign meetings.

In the lead up to the contested results, Kenya’s NGO Coordination Board attempted to de-register the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and instructed authorities to restrain their work. They also requested the Central Bank of Kenya to freeze KHRC’s assets and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to recover accrued taxes [1].

FIDH and KHRC reiterate their call to Kenyan authorities and urge them to ensure respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, press and association as well as to publicly recognise the essential role played by human rights defenders.

For more information, please contact:
• FIDH (French, English): Samuel Hanryon: +33 6 72 28 42 94 / Audrey Couprie: +33 1 43 55 25 18 (Paris)

Read more