The high court has given a temporary restraining order preventing Kenya’s telecom regulator from enforcing its ruling forbidding six TV stations from reporting anti-government protests.
The court stated that the action brought by the Katiba Institute, the Law Society of Kenya, and journalist unions raises serious difficulties.
The Authority censured Citizen TV, NTV, K24, national broadcaster KBC, TV47, and Ebru TV on Wednesday for airing anti-government demonstrations.
Communications Authority Director General Ezra Chiloba named the stations and accused them of breaking the Programming Code by displaying scenes that could provoke panic, encourage violence, or endanger the country’s peace and cohesion.
In its response, the Katiba Institute, an NGO that advocates for the Constitution’s application, called the Communications Authority judgment “unconstitutional” and a “threat to freedom of expression.”
The Katiba Institute demanded that Communications Authority withdraw its unconstitutional communication within 24 hours in a letter addressed to Chiloba.
The Institute also asked Chiloba for copies of the letters delivered to the six media outlets, as well as minutes and recordings of the Authority meeting where the decision was made.
The protests were overshadowed last Monday by nasty scenes in which protestors confronted police officers in a running fight.
Images and video footage circulated online of armed police officers scaling perimeter walls as demonstrators pursued them.
According to a police statement made on Tuesday, approximately 200 persons were arrested after the melee in which several police officers were hurt.
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Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome put the number of injured officers at 31 and reported more than 10 police cars were damaged during the battles, notably in Nairobi.
In Kisumu, one person was shot and died, while another was injured in Kibera. According to Koome, police used more than 100 live rounds in the turmoil that erupted when officers engaged demonstrators.