Seven journalists were arrested in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi last week, where they had joined activists gathered to protest against a controversial new media bill.
The Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation said the Kenya Communications Bill, which recently passed in parliament, gives the government the power to raid media centers, confiscate broadcast equipment and shut down all media during national emergencies.
Police broke up the peaceful protest outside the Nyayo Stadium, where President Mwai Kibaki was scheduled to lead celebrations marking Kenya’s 45th year of independence.
The media bill, described by Reporters Without Borders as “draconian,” also allows Kenya’s information minister to control what, when and how media broadcasts can occur.
Nairobi’s police say the protesters had gathered without giving them adequate warning, and were arrested for wearing T-shirts with slogans critical of the government, according to Agence France-Presse.
Several media personalities, including popular radio show hosts, were among those arrested.
One prominent newspaper editor said that with this bill, the government is “trying to sneak in provisions deliberately designed to muzzle the media.”
The protesters hope they will prevent the bill from being signed into effect by President Kibaki.
“Communications bill: Journalists arrested”
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, December 12, 2008
“Kenya arrests journalists, activists”
Agence France-Presse, December 13, 2008