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Blogger Nyakundi wins landmark court case

In a landmark ruling, the High Court has declared Section 66 of the Penal Code unconstitutional.

Justice Weldon Korir ruled that the section, which criminalizes the sending of alarming messages that are likely to cause panic and fear, violates the Constitution.

The case challenging the provision had been filed by controversial blogger Cyprian Nyakundi, who had been charged with alarming publication contrary to the law.

The charge sheet read that the blogger had unlawfully published a piece of false information.

Nyakundi was accused of tweeting, “Kenya power has been looted by Jubilee through Ken Tarus who got the Managing Director job using fake papers. This country is being led by criminals.”

In his ruling, Korir said that the provision is too retrogressive to fit in a democratic country, stating that it is difficult for people to express themselves without violating the said provision.

“It is difficult for one to express himself or herself without violating the said provision,” he ruled.

Section 66 of the Penal Code states that “any person who publishes any false statement, rumor or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

The Code adds that “it shall be a defense to a charge under the “alarming publications” clause if the accused proves that, prior to publication, he took such measures to verify the accuracy of the statement, rumor or report as to lead him reasonably to believe that it was true.”

A person found guilty of this offense is liable to a jail sentence not exceeding two years and/or a fine.