United Nations slams President Kenyatta government over media shutdown

Five days since the shutdown the government is yet to restore the signals of Citizen TV, NTV and KTN despite a court order.

The UN human rights agency echoed statements on Thursday by the United States and European Union urging the government to suspend its closure of the stations and uphold freedom of the press.

“We are also concerned at the government’s attempts to interfere with the rights to freedom of expression by reportedly warning that participation in the (Raila Odinga) 'inauguration ceremony' would lead to revocation of licenses,” the UN rights agency said.

The Government shut down three private media houses on January 30 for covering the swearing in ceremony of Kenya’s opposition chief Raila Odinga has the people’s president.

The Kenya Editors Guild in a statement issued by its chairman, Linus Kaikai said the government summoned media managers from the main media houses to State House, last week where alleged threats of shutting down media houses if they cover the NASA event were issued.

“We have just learnt today that on Friday last week, a section of media managers and select editors from the main media houses were quietly summoned to a meeting at the State House, Nairobi,” said Mr. Kaikai.

“The brief meeting attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru and AG Githu Muigai did not bode well for the freedom of expression and press in the country.”

Five days since the shutdown the government is yet to restore the signals of Citizen TV, NTV and KTN despite High Court judge Justice Chacha Mwita issuing orders to the government to restore them.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has also added its voice to the matter and accused the Kenyan government of exhibiting “contempt for the rule of law.”

Refusal to abide by the court order represents “a brazen example of censorship,”

“Kenya should be a beacon for the continent regarding the public's right of access to information,” the group's Africa programme coordinator, Angela Quintal, told a local media house in an interview.

A countrywide protest has been planned Monday to compel the government to bring to an end the shutdown.

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