Saturday, September 22, 2007

PROTEST LETTER TO PRESIDENT MWAI KIBAKI OF KENYA ON NEW MEDIA BILL

Your Excellency, as members of the Kenya Online Journalists’ Association –KOJA, we join our voices with those who have already gone public in protest while pleading that you do not append your signature to the controversial Media Bill.

While we appreciate the role of parliament in enacting laws, we totally feel that this legislation will erode all the gains our country has made in the path of democracy.

Your Excellency , as someone who has stood up against oppression, tyranny and excesses of those in authorities, it is our belief that you will once again demonstrate these virtues by sending back this bill to parliament so as to be debated afresh with a view to expunging the offending part.

While the spirit of the bill is good, we are dismayed by the amendment moved by the Honorable Muriuki Karue, the MP for Ol Kalou which we feel will deal a mortal blow to the practice of journalism in our beloved nation.

The part we take exceptional issue with reads thus: “When a story includes unnamed parties who are not disclosed and the same becomes the subject of a legal tussle as to who is meant, then the editor shall be obliged to disclose the identity of the party or parties referred to.”

The protection of the source is at the core of the trade of journalism and we feel that when this is taken away, we will be facing disaster straight in the face. We also feel that (1) The Bill was passed with extreme minority of MPs present. There were only 27 MPs. This is a dangerous precedent which we believe you would not want to be a parliamentary culture during your leadership.

(2) The clause will inhibit the media from supporting you in the war against corruption and other social ills. (3) Your government may be judged as restricting freedom of the press and by extension freedom of citizens to express themselves openly through media channels. It is acknowledged that there cannot be a free society without a free press. (4) As Online journalists we are compelled by Journalism values to be the voice of the suffering.

And as someone has already pointed out, we feel that risking the identity of our news sources would be like having the police name their informers, which will have similar repercussions.

Your Excellency, we appeal to you that may wisdom prevail so that this draconian piece of legislation may not be associated with you , nor your Government.

Mr.Charles Ogallo.


News Correspondent /
National Convernor.
Kenya Online Journalists’ Association –KOJA.

Box 87752, Mombasa.
Kenya.

Cellphone; 254-0720504864
http://www.kojanews.blogspot.com/


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