Journalists' union comes to rescue of Tuko editor after being jailed

The union argued that the journalist was sentenced without being given a fair chance to respond to the allegations upon which he was sentenced

 KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor speaking during a past event

The Kenya Union of Journalists has announced that it will be moving to court to appeal the decision by Nairobi Principal Magistrate Eunice Nyutu to jail a journalist for six months with an option of a fine of Sh50,000.

Nyutu ruled that the journalist who works for a news website; Tuko violated the law for publishing an article that defamed the complainant mentioned in the story, which was about corruption in the National Youth Service.

However, KUJ has argued that the judgement has far-reaching consequences in the fight against corruption.

While we respect the decision of the court, such retrogressive decisions have far-reaching consequences to the country’s governance, especially in the fight against corruption, which is at the centre of this matter.

Jailing a journalist in the 21st century is not only an assault on freedom of the media, which is well guarded by the constitution but a blow to the quest for a just society,” read a statement by KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor.

The union argued that the journalist was sentenced without being given a fair chance to respond to the allegations upon which he was sentenced.

The law provides for a mechanism for parties to seek redress in the event they are aggrieved by the work of journalists to protect the Fourth Estate from such assault.

It is incumbent on Courts to strictly adhere to these mechanisms and procedures to ensure the rule of law and democratic governance prevails,” Oduor added.

Earlier this year the KUJ announced a free legal assistance program to safeguard media freedom and improve journalists’ access to specialized and gender-sensitive legal assistance.

We have planned a series of workshops targeting at least 45 journalists from four Kenyan counties to strengthen their capacity to represent themselves in court,” Oduor said during the program’s launch.

Most governments in Africa have realized that what they can do now instead of using police they are now strengthening laws so that journalists do not operate freely,” the KUJ sec gen added.

He noted that the program which is being offered in partnership with UNESCO comes at a time when journalists are being profiled, threatened, and intimidated by politicians.

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