Steady decline in media freedom
Kenya has seen a slow erosion of media freedom in recent years. The political situation and security concerns have been used since 2016 as grounds for restricting the freedom to inform. During election campaigns, the media are routinely subjected to physical attacks by the security forces and the public, as well as to threats and intimidation by politicians, confiscation of equipment, and censorship of journalistic content. Journalists can pay dearly for covering opposition events or for portraying President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party and its flaws in a negative light. Four commercial TV channels were shut down at the start of 2018 for defying the president’s ban on live coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s mock inauguration as president. Pro-government activists waged a trolling campaign against the country’s leading media group in 2019. The 2010 constitution guarantees freedom of information, but laws criminalize the media and are used to gag them. The Security Laws Amendment Act of 2014 is designed to restrict this freedom. Under a new law on online content that took effect in 2018, defamation is punishable by heavy fines and prison sentences. Politicians continue to exercise a great deal of influence over both state and privately-owned media, which censor themselves to a significant degree, avoiding subjects that could cause annoyance or might jeopardize income sources. Impunity is the rule. Investigations into violence or abuses against journalists are still very uncommon and, as local NGOs point out, rarely lead to convictions.
100 in 2019
32.44 in 2019