Kenya one step closer to freedom of speech

The constitutional court overturned a Kenyan law on Tuesday that required TV and radio stations to obtain an approval certificate from a censorship board before broadcasting material.

The law was published in 2001 and required all broadcasters, theaters, production companies and advertisers to obtain clearance from a film licensing officer for any material they intend to distribute in Kenya. The law was originally intended only to cover screen films and set age restrictions for viewers, but the government tried to expand its scope.

Critics said the intention was to stifle dissent in the broadcast media.

The two-judge court ruled in favor of the National Media Group and said the minister of information had overstepped his authority, the AP reports.

"He cannot purport to extend the legislation to broadcasting networks, neither can he lawfully seek to regulate television commercials, documentaries and features," the court ruling said.

The court added that it was especially onerous on broadcasters who relied on live television.

Freedom of expression was fundamental to every aspect of democracy and should receive maximum protection, the court said.

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