The Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG) has expressed concerns at what it terms as clampdown by the State on the freedoms of expression, assembly and independence of the media in the period preceding and after the August 8th general elections.
The group cited the recent summon by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) of Nation Media Group’s Television anchor Larry Madowo over his interview with economist and National Super Alliance (Nasa) strategist David Ndii in August, and dispersal of anti-corruption crusaders by the police on December 10 at Freedom Corner – a day set aside internationally to draw public and global attention to the effects of corruption.
“The CSRG finds it strange that a police service that recently earned accolades from the Head of State Uhuru Kenyatta for its “professionalism” has gone on a fishing expedition for evidence on alleged crimes as serious as incitement to violence and subversion, both of which would pose a serious threat to national security more than 3 months after the commission of the alleged offenses!” a statement by the group’s presiding convener Suba Churchill read.
The CSRG averred that it views the arrest of David Ndii and the summon of NTV journalist as an unmitigated affront on the freedom of the media that runs counter to the provisions of Article 43 of the Constitution.
“Going by the violent manner in which the State has dispersed any group any group of citizens that have expressed a desire to express themselves though public gatherings, processions and protests, it seems that only groups supportive of the government are now allowed to exercise their rights to freedoms of association, assembly and expression,” Mr Churchill said.
He observed that the deteriorating freedom of expression, assembly and association should be a matter of great concern to the government as it is bound to spawn underground activities that the State may not be able effectively regulate.
“There is imminent danger that groups that may feel aggrieved by what now seems to be government policy to deny rights to these freedoms may get radicalized and become easy targets of extremists and pose greater danger to national security”.
The grump has called on the national Security Council as established under the Constitution and placed under the leadership of the president, to seriously re-examine the “unacceptable and untenable stand and policy on citizens’ rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly”, and urged the State to adopt a more liberal approach that enables citizens and their organized groups to freely and responsibly enjoy their rights as envisaged in the Constitution.
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