(Xinhua) -- Kenya’s High Court on Thursday directed
the country’s communications industry regulator to allow four
privately-owned television stations to resume broadcasting.
High Court Judge Chacha Mwita ordered
Communications Authority on Kenya (CA) to restore transmission
of KTN, NTV, Citizen and Inooro stations which were shut down by
the government on Tuesday.
Mwita also barred the government from
interfering with the signals or operations of the four media
houses until a case filed by civil society activist Okiya
Omtatah is heard and determined on Feb. 14.
Omtatah wanted the court to compel
relevant authorities to fully restore transmission with
immediate effect, noting that the state must be stopped from
ignoring the rule of law which is a key national value and
principle of governance.
“The respondent’s action violates the
prohibition in article 34(2) which bars the state from
exercising control over or interfering with any person
engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of
any publication,” read the court document.
He also wanted orders from the court
to bar the state from further interference with all the
television transmissions of the four media houses.
Omtatah said the public’s right to
information under article 35 of the Constitution is directly
affected since the switch-off has curtailed the public right of
access to information broadcast by the media houses.
In his ruling, Mwita said the
conservatory orders will remain until the matter is heard and
determined on Feb. 14. He certified the case as urgent.
The government shut down the
television stations hours before National Super Alliance (NASA)
leader Raila Odinga’s defiant inauguration on Tuesday.
Kenyans had expected the stations
would be back on air Tuesday evening after Odinga’s event, but
over 48 hours later, none of the channels has been reinstated.
There are fears that the government
may have revoked the licenses of the popular TV stations to
punish them for going against its directive.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred
Matiang’i later claimed the coalition had planned a massacre and
that some media houses were aware. He launched investigations
into the inauguration which he said will extend to conspirators
and facilitators the event.
Upon completion of these
investigations, appropriate legal action will be taken in
accordance with the laws of Kenya. The government will prefer
appropriate administrative measures on a need by need basis,
Matiang’i said on Wednesday.