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Nairobi, May 02, 2013
President Kenyatta assures on press freedom, safety and protection
President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured that his Government will support the media to be free, fair and responsible in conducting their business as provided for by the Constitution as well as international conventions to which Kenya is a signatory.
President Kenyatta said in appreciation and support of the critical role the media plays, his Government will prioritize media freedom by fast-tracking Bills that will entrench the independence, safety and protection of the press.
Among other measures, we will do this by fast-tracking media related Bills including the Media Bill, Data Protection Bill, Access to Information Bill and Communications Commission of Kenya Bill as provided for by the Kenya Constitution 2010 Articles 33 to 35, President Kenyatta said.
The President was speaking today at Kenyatta International Conference Centre when he officially opened a regional journalists convention which coincided with the World Press Freedom Day.
The Head of State pointed out that the legislations the Government intends to expedite will provide for independent bodies in the regulation of the media sector and strengthen professionalism in the industry.
Further, President Kenyatta said his Government will pursue and enact policies, initiatives and programmes to empower the media sector.
Said President Kenyatta: These will include the establishment of a level-playing field for all media stakeholders including the public broadcaster.
Reaffirming his Governments commitment to ensuring diversity and plurality in the media industry, the President said the media is too important a sector to be left to any one dominant player.
Indeed, Kenya has set an example for Africa in terms of non- interference in media freedom. We will uphold this proud reputation, the President said.
As a country and an emerging democracy in Africa, President Kenyatta said Kenya will be at the forefront in fighting any form of gagging the media, harassing of journalists, constraining media space and violation of media freedom that are fundamental to good governance.
He, therefore, emphasized that his Government will continue to support all the initiatives of media stakeholders in their pursuit for professionalism and responsibility in media.
On its part, President Kenyatta said, the media is expected to be at the forefront in informing and educating Kenyans on major social-cultural, political and economic issues and developments so that they can make informed choices and decisions.
This will enable them to hold their Government to account on the basis of knowledge and information, President Kenyatta said.
More fundamentally, the President said, the media must safeguard professionalism most jealously in order to sustain the trust and faith of the public by remaining objective and impartial.
The Head of State observed that as his Government seeks to entrench and expand media freedom, that independence must come hand in hand with a deep sense of responsibility.
He added that this sense of responsibility must extend to the social media which must be seen as a powerful tool of a new digital economy rather than a platform for propagating sectarianism and other social ills.
Said the President: Our rights and freedoms must be tampered by respect for the rights of others as well as commitment to fairness and impartiality.
President Kenyatta thanked the media, particularly the local media, for the exemplary manner in which they handled the just concluded general elections in Kenya.
The President said the way local media covered the elections professionally with due care, patriotism and restraint, sent a clear message to the world that Africa has come of age and the media is going to be a partner in the development of the new Africa.
In this regard, President Kenyatta said his Government will seek collaboration with the media in inculcating the spirit of a vibrant, strong and unified continent.
We envisage a strong and pro-active media that will reverse the old Afro-pessimism mind-set and replace it with a new Afro-optimism of the rising Africa, President Kenyatta said.
Noting that Africa is rising, the President said the media should correct negative images about Africa and propagate the new positive developments in the continent.
These are the images that we must aggressively seek to banish from the global media space and sphere about Africa. Not because they do not exist rather, that they will belong to a past, an inglorious past that we seek to forever consign to the annals of history, the President said.
He encouraged the media in Africa to be the first to chronicle the great unfolding story of the continent.
Said the President: Personally, I belong to those beholden to dreams of a glorious future for our continent. This is because I dare to dream. I believe in an enduring blessed future for the African peoples.
The Head of State, therefore, called on Africans to embrace the belief that time for change has come.
The President added that media freedom, including online freedom, today plays a dynamic role in the economic transformation of society, saying some countries have benefited from such freedom in attracting foreign direct investments.
Indeed, companies are much more disposed to have long term business interest in countries where media freedom is respected, the President said.
Reiterating the critical role of the media in educating, informing, entertaining as well as protecting the public interest, President Kenyatta appreciated that recent advances in Information and Telecommunications Technology have opened a new chapter for the media industry where vital information can reach the widest number of people in near real time.
He said ICT has led to the emergence of new ways to communicate, to share information and knowledge and for people to widen their sense of participation, identity and belonging.
Speaking during the convention, Nairobi Governor Dr. Evans Kidero appealed to the media to allocate more space to education items that will instil patriotism and unity.
Dr. Kidero added that the media should play its rightful role in promoting economic growth.
On his part, Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo assured the media fraternity in Kenya that the Government has taken steps to ensure fairness in the distribution of digital signals.
Dr. Ndemo said the Government has also formulated media-friendly legislation that will further bolster the media industry in the country.
Other speakers were Media Council of Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Harun Mwangi, Media Council Chairman Mr. Joseph Odindo and Media Owners Association Chairman Mr. Kiprono Kittony.
©2013 State House, Nairobi Kenya