Kenya | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The government routinely ignores constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and broadly interprets several laws, including the Official Secrets Act, the penal code, and criminal libel laws, to restrict the press. In recent years, senior politicians have brought defamation charges against a number of media outlets and publishers, winning potentially crippling monetary awards, while journalists have been sentenced to prison terms. New legislation signed into law in June raised publishers' mandatory insurance bond to one million Kenyan shillings, required publishers to submit copies of their publications to a government registrar, and increased the penalties for noncompliance to include stiff fines as well as lengthy jail sentences for both publishers and vendors. Although official pressure and bribery led some journalists to practice self-censorship, the private print media are generally outspoken and critical of government policies. The state has somewhat loosened its grip over the broadcast media, but the government-controlled Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) remains dominant outside the major urban centers and its coverage favors the ruling party. Prior to the December 2002 national elections, KBC refused to broadcast the paid advertisements of the major opposition party. Reporters continue to face some harassment at the hands of police and other officials.