Kenya president refuses to sign bill that would force journalists to disclose sources

[JURIST] Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] has refused to sign a bill [press release] that would give courts the authority to force journalists to disclose confidential sources. The Media Bill 2007 also establishes an independent council to adjudicate complaints against the media, but Kibaki specifically objected Wednesday to clause 35 subclause (4), which he said "could act as a great inhibition of press freedom and undermine the democratic strides we have made as a nation." The provision reads:

When a story includes unnamed parties who are not disclosed and the same becomes the subject of a legal tussle as to who is meant, then the editor shall be obligated to disclose the identity of the party or parties referred to.
Kibaki said that "The meaning of the expression 'unnamed parties' has not been qualified or restricted and can be construed to include subjects of a story as well as sources of information." Under the Kenyan constitution [PDF text], the president can object to a specific provision of a bill and send it back to the National Assembly [official website]. The legislature must now vote to remove the provision requiring reporters to reveal anonymous sources or vote with a 65 percent majority to overrule the president's decision.

Last week, more than 300 Kenyan journalists marched [JURIST report] in the capital city of Nairobi in opposition to the bill. Kenyan journalists say confidential sources have allowed the media to expose government scandals, including the Goldenberg affair [BBC report; JURIST report], which involved a bogus gold and diamond import/export business that fleeced government funds during the 24-year rule of former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi [official profile]. The Nation has more.

 

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