Journalists and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have advocated for Civic Space in Kenya reiterating that both CSOs and the media are independent with complementary mandates in ensuring transparency and accountability of the government.
Together, they are tasked to solve the issue of sustainability, independence and ensuring that the public has access to truthful and credible information.
Speaking at the event, Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) Chairperson Oloo Janak noted that access to information is a fundamental right that empowers citizens to hold public officials accountable and actively participate in democratic processes.
“In Kenya as in many countries, transparency, accountability, and citizen participation are essential elements of good governance,” added Oloo.
With the increased penetration of ICT in Kenya such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Chairperson stated that Large Language Models (LLMs) pose new opportunities and challenges both for the civil society and the media in its entirety hence the need to work together to overcome such challenges as the technological role on elections and democratic processes in Kenya.
He opined that over the past few decades, press freedom in Kenya has undergone significant changes resulting in a complex and evolving landscape giving a credible impression of a plurality of perspectives and voices in the media.
Assistant Director Training and Curriculum Development at the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) Christine Nguku insisted on the urgent need to reform and reinforce the legal framework governing media operations.
“Some of our media laws are outdated or restrictive. These laws, policies and regulations must be amended to align with international standards ensuring that they do not encroach upon our press freedom,” Nguku reiterated.
She further urged the importance of developing transparent regulations to protect the journalists’ rights while holding the media sector accountable.
The Conference was mainly organized to consolidate efforts and actions that will build a strong ecosystem for the press in Kenya with deliberation including building alliances between the media, CSOs and the government of Kenya, access to information and Artificial Intelligence, and the security, wellbeing and protection of journalists and whistleblowers.
By Kamau Maina and Juma Nalami