The Media Council of Kenya wants those practising journalism without proper accreditation to formalise their certification or risk arrest.
Chief Executive Officer of the council, David Omwoyo said that such people would be locked out of not only practising but other benefits reserved for those accredited.
Speaking in Siaya town, Omwoyo also officially launched the Siaya Press Club, flanked by area Governor James Orengo and County Commissioner Jim Njoka.
“It is illegal to purport to practice journalism in Kenya without accreditation,” Omwoyo said adding that without accreditation, journalists will miss out on several benefits such as training, story writing grants offered by the media council from time to time as well as press freedom protection.
Omwoyo called on journalists to be committed to the values of accuracy, transparency, truthfulness and the ‘not harm’ principle.
He reiterated the MCK’s commitment to the protection of journalists’ rights adding that by doing this, the eventual beneficiary becomes a Kenyan citizen.
The C.E.O. commended Siaya journalists for coming together to form the press club and pledged to support the young club in coming up with an information hub.
Addressing the occasion, the County Commissioner hailed the cordial working relationship with the local media.
Njoka urged the journalists to use the press club to protect the image of the profession through constructive criticism of each other.
The county commissioner also called on journalists to be patriotic and help highlight the positive things that the government was doing.
“You need to be balanced and patriotic. Flag out positive things that the government is doing and also those that you think the government should pay attention to,” said Njoka.
Governor Orengo urged the media to safeguard the freedoms enshrined in the constitution, adding that they did not just come casually.
“Article 34 of the constitution talks about the freedom of the media, distinct from the freedom of expression,” said Orengo adding “The additional provision of the constitution did not just come by itself but based on the struggles of the media fraternity, especially certain individuals that were engaged in the fight to expand the space in the area of freedom of expression and press.”
He pledged to streamline his government to make it easier for both journalists and the public to access information with ease.
“As a government entity, we acknowledge that the public has a right to know the state of affairs within the county as giving information will empower the public to make informed decisions,” Orengo said.
The launch of the Siaya press club was also attended by, among others former government spokesman, colonel (retired) Cyrus Oguna, Kenya National Union of Teachers Siaya branch executive secretary, Alex Dunga, club chairman, Philip Onyango and MCK director, Victor Bwire among others.