Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Kenya
As of December 31, 1998

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Independent news coverage could have served a crucial role as the parliament passed a constitution review bill at year's end that reportedly could curb the power of the presidency, and which may have far-reaching effects long after President Daniel arap Moi's current term expires in 2003. But instead, the independent print media were hobbled by limitations on press freedom long familiar to Kenya's journalists. Bans and arbitrary detentions continued throughout the year, and a compromised judiciary routinely handed down defamation convictions and restraining orders in response to broadcasts and articles the courts deemed to be defamatory.

Local journalists said that restrictions on the press allowed corrupt practices by government officials to go unreported and therefore unchecked. In July, when Patrick Mayoyo, a reporter for the leading daily newspaper Nation, broke a story on kickbacks in the customs department that led to the arrests of high-ranking officials, he received threats and was followed. On November 10, Bernard Liru, a correspondent with the privately owned East African Standard, died from injuries sustained in a suspicious automobile crash after he had published a story reporting on government administrators' graft and malfeasance involving the Mumias Sugar Company. The circumstances of the crash led local journalists to call for an official investigation into Liru's death.

In December, the government allocated radio and television frequencies to the Nation Media Group, ending a seven-year ordeal for the country's leading private media company, which had been kept out of broadcasting by the government monopoly. The government began selectively distributing private broadcasting licenses in 1996 to applicants linked to the ruling Kenya Africa National Union and to stations without news programming.
Attacks on the Press in Kenya in 1998
Date Journalist Incident
10/2/98 Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Harassed
7/16/98 Finance Censored
7/16/98 Njehu Gatabaki, Finance Censored
7/16/98 Finance Institute Limited Censored
7/10/98 A Imanene Imathiu, Nation Attacked
7/8/98 Tony Gachoka, Post on Sunday Harassed
7/1/98 Francis Wanderi, The Star Legal Action
7/1/98 Magayu Magayu, The Star Legal Action
7/1/98 Kamau Ngotho, The Star Legal Action
7/1/98 The Star Legal Action
6/29/98 Magayu Magayu, The Star Legal Action
6/29/98 Francis Mathenge Wanderi, Star Publishers Ltd. Legal Action
4/17/98 Finance Legal Action, Censored
4/17/98 Njehu Gatabaki, Finance Legal Action
4/17/98 Finance Journal Legal Action, Censored
4/17/98 Finance Institute Limited Legal Action, Censored
4/17/98 The Dispatch Legal Action, Censored
3/31/98 Target Legal Action
3/31/98 The Star Harassed

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