Lobbies react variedly to Kinyua's warning - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 9 October 2020

Lobbies react variedly to Kinyua's warning


Civil society organisations reacted with indignation at the warning by National Security Advisory Council to politicians and the media against inciting feelings of contempt, violence or discrimination.

While some said the statement by council chairman Joseph Kinyua was nothing new, others said there were risks of infringing on fundamental rights of Kenyans.

Amnesty International called on all state officers, especially the National Police Service, to comply with the spirit and letter of Article 21 and 245 of the Constitution.

Amnesty International executive director Houghton Irungu said officers have a fundamental duty to remain politically neutral and non-partisan.

Irungu further said Article 34 of the Constitution expressly prevents the State from penalising any person for any opinion and the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.

“All complaints against the media should be addressed through the self-regulating mechanism of the Media Council of Kenya, the Complaints Commission and the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal,” he added.

He said Article 37 of the Constitution says every person has the right to peaceably assemble or demonstrate without weapons. “Under Kenyan law, organisers of assemblies and gatherings should notify the police.” 

International Centre for Policy and Conflict executive director Ndung'u Wainaina said the National Security Advisory Council erred in issuing the statement. He said the National Security Council is the right agency to issue such a statement.

“Kinyua and his team were not the legally recognised people to issue that statement. It should have been issued by the NSC and we know who its chair is,” he explained.

Kinyua said all media outlets are to be held responsible for content they broadcast or publish.

He pointed out that a convener or any person intending to hold meeting shall notify the officer in a commanding station three days to but not 14 days before the procession.

"Social media will be held liable for all their contents on preventing undesirable political messages,” he stated.

Kinyua also urged Kenyans to exercise restraint, authenticate source and credibility of messages before sharing on social media platforms.

Wainaina said Kinyua attacked freedom of the media in his statement. “His team purported to limit the rights and freedoms of Kenyans. The High Court has declared several times that people can't be denied the right to assembly and association among others,” he added.

The National Civil Society Congress however said Kinyua said nothing new as he just quoted Section 5 of the Public Order Act that regulates the rights to freedom of assembly.

National coordinator Suba Churchill said a number people may have gotten Kinyua wrong by assuming that his intention was to muzzle a particular group of people.

“Even the three days he talked about and the two weeks he mentioned before the protests are already in the law. He was citing Section 5 subsection 1 all the way to 11,” he noted.

 “That is how the law is. I want to say that I also don't like the way it is and I would want it amended.”

Suba asked MPs to propose amendments to the law to address the current needs. He said parts of the law were passed in the 1950s by colonialists to contain Africans from mobilising for independence.

Muhuri, a civil society organisation based in the coastal region of Kenya said the statement appeared to suppress operations of one political side.

“There is the issue of double standards and that statement is seen to be one-sided. This is just public relations,” Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa said.

He said sections of the statement amounted to intimidation. “There are already laws governing social media. They are trying to intimidate Kenyans not to express themselves,” he stated.

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