High Court strikes out Kenya's criminal defamation law

Monday February 6 2017

A self-styled pastor, James Kigera, who conned a Nanyuki trader Sh12,000 by pretending he had powers to cast out demons has been jailed for six months. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

A self-styled pastor, James Kigera, who conned a Nanyuki trader Sh12,000 by pretending he had powers to cast out demons has been jailed for six months. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP. 

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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The High Court has declared as unconstitutional a section of the law that criminalises defamation.

Justice John Mativo on Monday ruled that Section 194 of the Penal Code violates the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 33 of the supreme law of the land.

Two people charged separately with criminal defamation had sued challenging that law.

They sued Attorney-General Githu Muigai and Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko while Article 19, an international freedom of expression advocate, was listed as an interested party in the case.

According to the judge, there is already an appropriate and satisfactory alternative remedy for defamation.

The ruling is a big win for media houses and journalists in Kenya.

More follows.