Catholic Bishops in Kenya Urge Respect of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms after Shutdown of Four TV Stations
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 05 February 2018
The Catholic Bishops in Kenya have called for the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms of Kenyans following last week’s events by both the opposition coalition and the government.
Last Tuesday, January 30, the leader of the opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA), Raila Odinga took an oath of office, pronouncing himself as the “People’s President” at a parked Uhuru Park grounds adjacent to Nairobi’s Central Business District.
In reaction to the swearing-in event, the government of Kenya shut down four TV stations, namely, NTV, KTN News, Citizen TV and Inooro TV, and even later disobeyed a court order that broadcast be restored.
“We wish to categorically state that shutting down of the media houses, does not augur well for the freedom of expression and press in the Country,” the Bishops’ press statement reads in part and continues, “This is in itself is retrogressive and deliberate effort toward eroding the positive steps the Country and her people have laid down in the Constitution as a social contract.”
In a press statement dated February 2 and signed by the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop Philip Anyolo, the Catholic Prelates want both opposition and the government to “desist from any acts that can incite the public and cause deeper divisions among the people of Kenya and the Country at large.”
By Monday, February 5 evening, only KTN News and NTV has resumed broadcast.
Below is the full text of the Bishops’ statement
Press Statement: Call to Respect Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of Kenyans
We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, are saddened by the events that we are currently witnessing in our country. As a Church whose mandate is to promote justice and peace, we are categorically concerned with acts of both the government and the opposition that are unconstitutional and a bridge to law and order.
We wish to categorically state that shutting down of the media houses, does not augur well for the freedom of expression and press in the Country. This is in itself is retrogressive and deliberate effort toward eroding the positive steps the Country and her people have laid down in the Constitution as a social contract.
We therefore wish to state as follows:
THAT the rights provided for in the Constitution and in the various International instruments ratified by the Kenyan Government guarantee responsible and press freedom.
THAT the freedom and independence of electronic, print and all other types of media is guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya Article 34.
THAT journalists and media establishments have a duty to inform and educate the public and the public has a right to receive information in a secure environment which the state ought to provide.
THAT Kenya has an Authority (Communications Authority of Kenya), established by law (Kenya Information and Communication Act No.2 of 1998) which, shall be independent and free of control by government, political or commercial interests in the exercise of its powers and
THAT in fulfilling its mandate, the Authority shall be guided by the national values and principles of governance in Article 10 and the values and principles of public service in Article 232(1) of the Constitution.
THAT both opposition and the government should desist from any acts that can incite the public and cause deeper divisions among the people of Kenya and the Country at large.
THAT no state agency or individual is above the law and all should act within the law.
We therefore, call upon all state agencies and all duty bearers to respect and adhere to the tenets and spirit of the Constitution, respect human rights and the fundamental freedoms.
As Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, we are committed and ready with the process of national dialogue that can resolve the problems that our Country is facing today. We must realize that no development can take place without peace. We call upon all Kenyans to join us as we launch our 2018 Lenten Campaign on 10th February in Kisumu Archdiocese whose theme is ‘’Reconciliation for Peaceful Co-existence and National Integration… Justice for All’’
May we dwell in Unity, Peace and Liberty, God bless Kenya.
Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo
Chairman, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops
Dated: February 2nd, 2018.