Freedom of Expression Article 33

We are all entitled to the right to freedom of expression. Infact the constitution of Kenya has provisions that clearly state that we all have the right to seek, receive, or air out our thoughts and ideas. Whether you choose to do this through art, through an academic thesis, whichever way you deem fit, you have all the freedom to that.

Statement like:

“You have the right to hold your opinion even if I disagree with it”

“I disagree with your opinion but I will fight to the tooth to safeguard your right to say it”

“Glass, China, and Reputation are easily cracked, and never well mended”

These statements have been used in history to emphasize the need to foster free speech. However, the constitution further gives some boundaries to this freedom. Propaganda for war, hate speech, incitement to violence, and hatred are not empowered.

We all witnessed the impact of violating these boundaries in the 2007 post-election violence either on television, social media, or in real life. Lives were lost, property destroyed, the economy of the country was hanging on a thin thread. Kenya being a country that is governed by the rule of law means that the constitution is sovereign. Incitement along tribal lines, discrimination targeted at a group of people, or any form of incitement that is likely to cause harm upon an individual’s reputation can attract a lawsuit.

Ever heard of libel and slander?

Defamation law

Defamation can be regarded as any statement shared that injures the reputation of another individual/third party. An act of defaming a person. So, when this statement is in written form it is termed libel, in spoken words, it is considered slander.

Here is a typical example of a case involving Article 33 of the constitution that you can analyze further to understand how heavy of an impact the violation of Article 33 can be.

Points to carry home:

-The process of filing for defamation

Element of a Defamation Lawsuit

it is important also to bear in mind that even posts or content made on social media to assault a person’s good name can still be regarded as a violation of the law. Something as simple as a retweet is considered a republish and can be used as evidence against you in a court of law. This calls for utmost cautiousness when putting up information on your socials.

Here’s a scenario to ponder on:

Jack is famously known for his controversial blog posts that his thousands of followers follow religiously once he updates new content. Jack most of the time uses satire in his writings just to keep him off the glare of defamation. One day, Shari, a huge fan of his posts, decides to make clear the content of one of Jack’s blogs. Putting it evident by calling out the name of the one described by Jack in the blog. Her single comment turns the internet wild. Everyone is coming for Jack’s head. The alleged individual who feels that Jack’s blog has damaged his reputation informs Jack of the violation and promises to move to court.

Is Jack at fault for putting up the post?

What are your thoughts on this?


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