UK Minister for Africa outlines support for media freedom in Kenya


MP James Duddridge, the Minister for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. PHOTO | COURTESY
MP James Duddridge, the Minister for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. PHOTO | COURTESY

On World Press Freedom Day, UK’s Minister for Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister James Duddridge MP will give a keynote speech at two events in Nairobi to salute “the tireless work of journalists during COVID-19”.

He will give a keynote speech at the regional event hosted by the Kenya Editors’ Guild (KEG) and also participate in the Media Council of Kenya conference.

The Minister will outline some of the UK’s support for media freedom in Kenya and across East Africa – in 2019, the UK spent Ksh. 17.2billion of aid on supporting the media and the free flow of information across the world.

“I want to pay tribute to your tireless work as journalists in challenging times. Challenging times made even harder by the economic disruption of COVID-19. Many have been reporting from the front lines of this health crisis, and too many have faced censorship, intimidation, or violence.

“We politicians may not always like what the media has to say, but it is a vital part of a free and open society. We salute you for what you do, and are here to support your work,” says Mr Duddridge.

Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Kenya will host a group of parliamentarians to discuss media freedom.

“Media freedom is the beating heart of a functioning democracy. We need an independent and sustainable media, with laws, policies and professionals to serve society. We need investigative journalists.

“We need a media that holds power to account – whether it is in the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, business or more broadly. And we need journalists to be safe in their endeavour, working without fear of interference.

“The UK will defined and promote a free and fair global media, for all our sakes. I’m pleased we’re able to announce this support for media freedom in Kenya, which will help journalists – women journalists in particular – to carry out their essential function.”

The UK has also been supporting female journalists in Kenya through a series of events hosted by the British High Commissioner. “We are backing the Election Observation Group (ELOG) to monitor hate speech and inflammatory language through the media ahead of the 2022 elections,” she said.

A new programme has recently begun operating in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu Counties, with a particular focus on supporting data journalism and female journalists.

One recent example of its work includes compiling the important report launched today on media freedoms in Kenya, building awareness on legal frameworks and rights, and supporting accuracy and fact-checking in the digital space.

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