Kenya has been ranked among countries whose media freedom status is ‘largely unfree’ in a global democracy index report.
The Democracy Index 2017 report, which was released on Wednesday by The Economist Intelligence Unit, places Kenya in the same rank with countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Central African Republic and Lebanon.
Other African countries in that category are Uganda, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
“Even the more enlightened regimes in the region are not averse to clamping down on the media and limiting freedom of expression. In Kenya, journalists routinely face harassment and intimidation while carrying out their work. Despite a recent lifting of anti-media laws, journalists can face criminal prosecution under security legislation, and violent attacks against media workers increased in the run-up to the country ’s August 2017 elections,” states the report.
The report came out just one after the government switched off TV stations of three media houses for live broadcast of the swearing in of Nasa leader Raila Odinga as the people’s president.
On Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the three stations – NTV, Citizen TV and KTN News – would remain off air since they are under investigation as conspirators of Tuesday’s events at Uhuru Park.
In the media freedom ranking, Kenya scored six points out of 10 and was placed in position 71 out of 154.
On democracy, Kenya was ranked 95 out of 167, with its worst performance being in electoral process and pluralism (3.5 points) and civil liberties (4.41 points). The country had an overall score of 5.11 out of 10.
The report was coincidentally released at a time when the government is under pressure from human rights groups to lift its order of shutting three leading TV stations.