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Freedom of Speech and the Mass Media in Kenya

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Freedom of Speech and the Mass Media in Kenya

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MASS MEDIA AND THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN KENYA

INTRODUCTION
For many years human rights activists, different organizations, and trade unions of Kenya have ceaselessly fought for the basic human rights inclusion of the legislation process to become part of the law. An example of these rights that they have advocated for is freedom of speech. Freedom of speech simply refers to the democratic right of an individual to express his/her political, religious, social or economic views through oral or written speech without being restrained or fear of censorship (Rodman and George pg 70). The media have acted as a watchdog to oversee the government operations. Therefore, it has played a significant role to ensure social welfare by compelling the government to prove actions from time to time. This has formed the basis of the discussion on matters that relate to the freedom of speech and the mass media in the Kenyan context.

Unlike in other countries, Kenyans promulgated the new constitution in 2010 that guarantees freedom and independence of the press. The former regime government practiced censorship of the press by enacting tight laws that might prevent the act of criticizing the government or any political leader. Anyone who tried to publish or utter any information about the government even when it was a genuine critique risked conviction. This kind of censorship elicited many debates that resulted in the voting out of that government (Njogu and Middleton pg 123). In the new constitution, free speech and freedom of media are the components of chapter four under bills of rights. According to article 33(1), every person in Kenya possesses the right to freedom of speech. This include; searching, receiving, or conveying information. However, it clarifies in article 33(2) that it does not mean that anyone indulges in incitement to violence, hate speech, propaganda for war or advocate for hatred (The Constitution of Kenya pg 27). Moreover, article 34(1) of the...