Kenyan court declares criminal defamation unconstitutional

March 10, 2017 10:12 am

On 6 February 2017 Justice John Mativo ruled that Section 194 of Kenya’s Penal Code, which creates the offence of criminal defamation,  violates the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 33 of the supreme law of the land.

Jaqueline Okuta and Jackson Njeru, two individuals separately charged with criminal defamation had petitioned the High Court in Nairobi that the provision was a disproportionate and unjustifiable limitation of freedom of expression.

“This judgement is a huge win for freedom of expression in Kenya, and an encouraging step towards respect for human rights. Article 19 is pleased to see that the threat to freedom of expression presented by criminal defamation laws has been recognised by the courts, in line with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, said Henry Maina, Director of Article 19 Eastern Africa.

Read the full judgment here Petition_397_of_2016 criminal defamation