Kenya: Review Draft Contempt of Court Bill 2013

Kenya: Review Draft Contempt of Court Bill 2013 - Civic Space

A Kenyan flag outside the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa calls for the review and strengthening of the Contempt of Court Bill 2013 which has been has been forwarded to the Attorney Generals’ office for publication. We call upon the Government to consult all stakeholders to ensure that the bill conforms to international standards.

The draft Contempt of Court Bill 2013 defines and limits the powers of courts in punishing two types of contempt of court: “contempt by publication” which occurs when a publication is deemed to interfere with the administration of justice and; “contempt in the face of court” which refers to conduct which is abusive or disruptive to courtroom proceedings.

Contempt of court refers to actions that undermine the impartiality or authority of a legal process therefore interfering with the administration of justice.

Currently, the High Court and Court of Appeal have powers to punish persons for contempt of court under the Judicature Act. Sometimes these powers have been used to hamper freedom of expression and silence legitimate debate. The media in particular have been prosecuted and punished under contempt of court orders and that is why it is necessary to review the Contempt of Court provisions to ensure they are not used to stifle legitimate debate,

During a roundtable discussion organised by ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa to review the Contempt of Court Bill 2013, participants from Government, media and civil society. “In the current state, the bill introduces unjustifiable limitations on freedom of expression and freedom of the media. It needs to be reviewed to include strong provisions that protect sources of information and provide for the right of appeal of a contempt ruling,” said Henry Maina, Director ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.

ARTICLE 19 recommends that the bill be reviewed to define contempt of court more succinctly in line with international and regional standards. It also calls on the bill to balance between protecting judicial processes to concurrently enabling public access to information as well as safeguarding media coverage of the administration of justice.

ARTICLE 19 examined the Kenyan Contempt of Court Bill, 2013 from the perspective of international human rights law and standards on freedom of expression, as well as comparative approaches to contempt of court.  For a copy of ARTICLE 19’s full analysis of the Contempt of Court Bill 2013, click here.

FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS: Please contact: Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, or call 0727862230

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact: Stephanie Muchai, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, or call 0727862230