The Constitution of Kenya 2010 guarantees and protects freedoms of association, expression, information and media.1 Kenya has the same obligations in regional and international instruments namely;
- The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights2
- The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African
- Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights3 and;
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights4
However, despite Kenya‟s three tier obligation at national regional and international levels, there has been a recent legislative onslaught on these rights via the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill 2013 now awaiting presidential assent, and; the proposed amendments to the Public Organisations Act 2012 via The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2013.
The effect of these laws will be to unconstitutionally and unjustifiably shrink the civic and democratic space for expression, information and association.
In particular, these Bills will;
- End impartial media coverage by handing control of media houses and broadcasters to the government;
- Give the government power to punish journalists at will by allowing a state controlled media regulator to hand out excessive, harsh and punitive punishments for perceived violations
- Place excessive limits on the right to practice journalism
- Silence journalists and Kenyans critical of the government or public officials
- Reduce the civic and democratic space that Kenyans have to hold their government and public officials to account
- Immediately cut off vital services provided in by ngo‟s in crucial areas like health,
- education, water and many others through prescribed limitations on funding.
- Give the government power to change terms of grant of certificates of registration and permits of operation of public benefits organisation status at their whims.
- Allow the government to collect ngo funds with no checks and balances on this power.
- Prevents Kenyans from accessing vital services and goods provided by public benefit organisations filling Government gaps in distribution of resources
- Result in the loss of jobs for over 50,000 Kenyans working for public benefit organisations
1 Articles 33, 34, 35 and 36 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 – http://kenyalaw.org/kl/index.php?id=398
3 Article 19
4 Article 19