Didacus Malowa, an editor with digital media house TUKO, was handed a six month jail sentence because of an article that was deemed misleading by a judge. He was also handed an option of paying a Ksh. 50,000 fine.

The ruling was made by Nairobi Principal Magistrate Eunice Nyutu. The ruling was made in a case that touched on the publishing of an article that touched on the ongoing National Youth Service (NYS) graft case. In her ruling, Nyutu said the punishment will act as a deterrent to other journalists, editors and media houses against publishing misleading articles.

The ruling was made in a case filed by David Mbogo Muthee who worked for NYS as a shopkeeper. According to him, claims that he acquired luxury vehicles and property worth over Ksh. 200 million in Ruiru ilegally were not accurate. The court agreed with him and that’s why the sentence was handed to the Tuko editor.

The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) have however disagreed with the judgement. They have announced their intention to appeal the judgment. In a statement, KUJ secretary general Erick Oduor has said that while the union respects the decision of the court, the decisions have far-reaching consequences on the country’s governance, especially in the fight against corruption.

“While we respect the decision of the court, such retrogressive decisions have far-reaching consequences to the country’s governance, especially in the fight against corruption, which is at the centre of this matter,” said Mr Oduor.

He added that the law provides for a mechanism for parties to seek redress in the event they are aggrieved by the work of journalists to protect the Fourth Estate from such assault.

“Jailing a journalist in the 21st Century is not only an assault on freedom of the media, which is well guarded by the constitution but a blow to the quest for a just society.”