Kenya’s High Court has ordered the government to end its shutdown of the country’s top three TV stations.
The three TV Stations Citizen TV of Royal Media Services, NTV of Nation Media Group and KTN News of The Standard Media Group were shut down on Tuesday after they tried to broadcast images of NASA Leader- Raila Odinga “swearing in” ceremony which was considered treasonous.
On Thursday Justice Chacha Mwita directed Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, his ICT counterpart, Joe Mucheru, and the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) to immediately restore the signals for the media outlets until a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah is heard and determined.
Justice Mwita also stopped Matiang’i, CA, or any other government authority from interfering with all television transmissions by the Standard Group, Royal Media Services, and Nation Media Group.
“I am satisfied that the petition raises serious legal and constitutional issues that require immediate intervention by the court. I therefore issue orders for the respondents to immediately restorall television transmissions pending determination of the case,” ruled Mwita.
The court has since suspended the shutdown for two weeks while a case challenging the legality of the government’s action is heard. However, the Three private Kenyan television channels have remained off air despite the court order.
Kenya’s interior minister, Fred Matiangi, on Wednesday said the TV stations and some radio stations will remain shut down while being investigated for their alleged role in what he called an attempt to “subvert and overthrow” Kenyatta’s government.
Matiangi claimed that the media’s involvement in the mock inauguration would have led to the deaths of thousands of Kenyans.
Media Council of Kenya reacts
The Media Council of Kenya has also reacted to the shutdown saying the act erodes the gains so far made in developing a free and responsible media industry and should never happen in a robust democracy that Kenya boasts of.
“As guaranteed by the Kenyan Constitution, media freedom should be guarded jealously at all times. The switching off while targeting the media houses is denying Kenyans the right to information as guaranteed by Article 33 of the Constitution which states that every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas and Article 34 that says freedom and independence of electronic, print and all other types of media is guaranteed and the State shall not exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in,” read a statement signed by David Omwoyo CEO Media Council of Kenya.
The shutdwon has since prompted fierce public criticism with human rights groups raising an outcry over the shutdown of live transmissions.
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