Nairobi — The High Court has issued injunction forbidding Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria from using disrespectful or slanderous phrases toward any media outlet.
In a ruling on Wednesday, the Milimani High Court Justice Lawrence Mugambi issued the order following an application filed by one Charles Mugane, who is a human rights defender and also an advocate of the High Court.
“Pending hearing and determination of this application an injunction be issued against the Cabinet Secretary Trade preventing him from uttering or expressing any belittling, condescending, disdainful words against any Media Practitioner by the meaning of Article 34 of the constitution howsoever and whatsoever,” he said.
The judge ordered that the CS and the Attorney General be served with Charles’ application within three days, and that they respond within seven days.
The matter will be mentioned on July 24.
In the petition, Mugane said that the insulting words used by Kuria against the media were “intended to intimidate and/or threaten media practitioners from exposing dubious transactions by the government with a promise of proprietary consequences which is a breach of the Freedom of the media guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Mugane further asserted that CS Kuria’s comments violate the public procurement and disposal laws, harm media freedom, and are unconstitutional.
“The above words were uttered by the person of a Cabinet Secretary who is a State Officer in his official capacity which conduct dishonors the nation of Kenya, the office held by the 1st Respondent and further waters down public confidence in the integrity of the office so held,” the petitioner further argues.
The petition followed a public statement during an event in Embu on 18th June on Sunday where Kuria accused NMG of being “an opposition party”.
He made a roadside declaration ostensibly directing government agencies to stop advertising with the media house.
The CS implied that the media outlet was only appropriate for advertisements on auctions and funeral announcements and threatened to sack any state official who placed ads.
Kuria said: “I want to tell Nation Media, you need to choose whether you are a newspaper, broadcasting house or an opposition party. From today, not even tomorrow, if any government department advertises with Nation Media, know you are on your way home.”
The CS appeared to be reacting to an exposé published by NMG over the weekend detailing an alleged oil scandal under his ministry.
Kuria has however stated that he will not retract his recent attack on the media.
Speaking on Wednesday, Kuria stated to have experience working in and owning media outlets and that he is aware of the differences when a media house is being misused.
The CS further stated that he strongly supports the media.
“I am not apologizing, and I have been a media owner before. I have been a writer in your newspapers and all that before,” he said.
“There is nobody who is pro-media more than me, but I know the difference between media and what Thomas Baldwin called the prerogative of the harlot; the exercise of power without responsibility.”