State refuses to restore TV stations signals

Monday February 5 2018

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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The shutdown of NTV, Citizen and KTN enters day seven on Monday, with the Communications Authority showing no signs of obeying a court order directing it to allow the TV stations back on air.

Lobbies on Sunday said the defiance of the order and the crack down on opposition leaders “are a recipe for total breakdown of the rule of law and order in Kenya and can only lead to more violations of human rights”.

The Civil Society Reference Group said the reaction by the government to an event its top leadership had described as a comedy was excessive.

“It is unfathomable and ironic that three TV stations, whose role was only to cover an activity the government had definitely allowed to proceed, are being punished,” the group said.

“They are being punished without being accorded a hearing so that the veracity of their alleged offence can be determined lawfully.”

COURT ORDER
Mr Suba Churchill, the group’s convener, said the proper channel for the government to deal with the stations whose broadcasts it deemed illegal is to prosecute them.

“The continued shutdown of three TV stations even after the High Court directed that they be brought back on air three days ago is the most glaring indication that the Executive does not respect the law and institutions established under the Constitution even as it proclaims the contrary,” Mr Churchill said.

The Communications Authority has refused to be served the orders issued by the High Court.

Mr Okiya Omtatah, an activist, was turned away on Friday and the order he pasted on a wall near the agency’s gate removed within minutes.

Court servers were also unable to accomplish this usually simple task on Saturday as they were harassed and chased by sentries at the gate to the authority’s offices on Waiyaki Way, Nairobi.