Justice James Wakiaga has today sworn in the chairperson of Media Council Complaints Commission, Mr. Timothy Mwangi Kariuki in an event that also saw the swearing in of three other members of the Commission.
The Commission which is an independent arm of the Media Council of Kenya was established under the Media Act no 46 of 2013 to give effect to Article 34(5) of the Constitution of Kenya with its main aim being to set media standards and the Complaints Commission to ensure compliance with those standards.
The commission is currently charged with the responsibility of facilitating mediation and conciliation of disputes between the Government and the Fourth estate, the public and the media and intra-media disputes. According to the newly sworn in Chair of the commission, Mr. Timothy Mwangi, the backlog of pending complaints stands at 150.
Mr. Timothy Mwangi said that the commission will delve into the cases from next week and adjudicate on them. The decisions of the Commission have weight and significance, and are only appealable to the High Court.
Justice James Wakiaga said, “It is up to the commission to reflect impartiality, transparency, independence and above all to earn public confidence.” The commission is charged with a difficult task of interpreting code of conduct, hearing disputes and at the same time balancing the conflicting rights of the media, government and individuals all under public scrutiny.
Justice Wakiaga emphasized that “As a Judiciary if you work well, we will have an easy time.”
Strong emphasis was put on the fact that freedom of expression has its limitations and as such should not be abused. Some of the members of the commission blamed the rising number of complaints especially those against the media on poor training especially on matters to do with defamation.
The other members sworn into the commission are Esther Anyango Aduma, Gladys Kwamboka Oyaro and Abdi Mohammed Hassan.