Adjudication of Media Disputes

The Media Act 2013 under Section 27 establishes a Complaints Commission whose mandate is to arbitrate in disputes between (a) Public and the Media (b) Government and media (c) Within the media (Intramedia).

The Complaints Commission consists of Seven (7) members appointed through a competitive and industry driven process provided for in section 27 of the Media Act. They include a chairperson who has held a judicial position or is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya of not less than 10 years standing and four other persons possessing experience and expertise in journalism and related fields.

The services of the Commission are free and independent of the Media and Government. In general, complaints must constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya (Second Schedule, The Media Act).

The Code has 25 Articles incorporating the “dos and don’ts” of the media including fairness and accuracy, right of reply, using unnamed sources, misrepresentation, privacy, use of pictures and names, integrity, accountability, obscenity and bad taste, intrusion into grief and shock, protection of children and victims of sexual violence, acts of violence and hate speech.

The decisions of the Commission have the force of the decisions of a court of law are only appealable to the High Court.

Nature of complaint

Any person aggrieved by—

  1. Any publication by or conduct of a journalist-or media enterprise in relation to this Act;
  2. Or anything done against a journalist or media enterprise that limits or interferes with the constitutional freedom of expression of such journalist or media enterprise.

The complaint is made via a complaint form available at the Councils website as well as its website.

Powers of the Commission

After hearing the matter, the Commission can undertake any or a combination of the following orders;

  1. Dismiss the complaint;
  2. Order the offending party to publish an apology and correction in such manner as the Commission may specify;
  3. Order the return, repair, or replacement of any equipment or material belonging to a journalist confiscated or destroyed;
  4. Make any directive and declaration on freedom of expression;
  5. Issue a public reprimand of the journalist or media enterprise involved;
  6. Order the offending editor of the broadcast, print or on-line material to publish the Commission's decision in such manner as specified by the Commission;
  7. Impose a fine of not more than five hundred thousand shillings (500, 000) on any respondent media enterprise and a fine of not more than one hundred thousand shillings (100,000), on any journalist, adjudged to have violated the Act or Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism.