By Eliud Owalo
There is an extremely worrying trend in Kenya today that threatens constitutionalism and civil rights. Last night’s arrest of journalist Yassin Juma stands condemned in the strongest terms possible.
In the last one week alone, one journalist has been arrested,while two others have apparently been releived of their duties ostensibly because they wrote op-ed’s that were critical of the Jubilee government. During the same period, four bloggers were arrested on flimsy grounds and charged with “misuse of communication gadget”. It is the same draconian law Yassin Juma has been held under. Other bloggers have privately informed me they are now living in perpetual fear and hiding from state security agents because they are no longer certain of their personal security.
These arrests and threats to journalists and bloggers are reminiscent of a dictatorial, tyrannical and despotic regime out to trample on fundamental democratic rights of its citizens. Forcing media houses to fire editors and journalists severely undermines freedom of the press. It is a dangerous precedent that will culminate into retrogression on our constitutionalism,and which should be strongly resisted.
The Jubilee Administration has within a span of three years reversed civil rights and freedoms that took decades to attain. Unless Kenyans vigorously resist this dictatorial tendencies,things will only get worse towards the 2017 general elections.
It would appear that because it lacks legitimacy and is drowning in the cesspit of grand corruption, the Jubilee administration has resorted to draconian and primitive tactics of state intimidation,an affront on press freedom and unwarranted restrictions on internet use and access through deployment of draconian laws.
Wannabe dictators usually copy the tactics laid by leaders of totalitarian states elsewhere and they consider freedom of speech and access to information as their worst political threat. Often,this is what eventually precipitates collapse of despotic regimes.
The Kenyan administration has apparently learnt from the neighbouring despotic states of Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Ethiopia and is today quickly adopting totalitarian methods of governance.
For this reason, the Jubilee administration has created a strong propaganda machine at all levels of public communication and this is designed to replace reliable information, policy analysis and free access to and exchange of information.
Freedom of the press, freedom of expression and right to information are infallible benchmarks in determining the degree of constitutionalism and extent of democracy in a country.
If Jubilee refuses to learn from history, then there will be no other alternative but for the people to hound them out of power during the next elections. There is always a price to pay for those who disregard democracy.