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Fact Check: Miss Trudy broke the law for filming at Mombasa International Airport

There was drama at Mombasa International Airport on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, when security officials attempted to arrest social media content creator Miss Trudy for filming her videos for her YouTube channel inside the airport premises.

According to Miss Trudy, who uploaded a video slamming the officials who proceeded to call a police officer to arrest her after a shouting match began, she claimed she had done nothing illegal but film content, saying this is 2023 and such arrests have no place in this country.

“I’m driving back to Nairobi, someone stops me at the entrance, this guy stops me, starts harassing me, tells me to stop making content. I’m just tired. Content creators have a right to create content. This shouldn’t be happening in 2023. I’m not doing anything illegal. I am a Kenyan citizen. I am not even filming in the security zone. I am outside and I am being harassed,” Ms Trudy said in part.

However, a fact-check of her claims revealed that she was indeed engaged in a prohibited activity.

Airports are among the government facilities designated as protected areas/controlled security zones.

This means that there are specific rules and regulations for anyone accessing these facilities, and one of these rules is that photography is not allowed on their premises.

Also read: New measures proposed to bar stowaways from airports

She also committed offences by continuing to record the altercation on the airport premises and by refusing to comply with instructions from the airport and law enforcement authorities.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Security Regulations 2020 59 (1-c) states that a person commits an offence by operating a portable electronic device when such act is prohibited.

In addition, Section 56 (b) on Offences and Penalties states that a person commits an offence if he refuses to comply with a lawful order issued by the airport operator on behalf of the Authority by an aviation security officer or authorised person for the purpose of ensuring order and safety at the airport or of any person or property at the airport or for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline at the airport.

Section 61 of the Aviation Security Regulations also states that anyone who commits an offence in a restricted area is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both. This was evident in the case of four Britons, who were fined in 2016 for taking photographs at Wilson Airport and refusing to obey instructions from an airport authority.

Also read: Zimbabwe apologize to Kenyan YouTuber over mistreatment at airport

Miss Trudy was required by law to have written to the airport manager, informing him of her and her crew’s intention to film at the airport and to have paid the prescribed facilitation fees before beginning to film her social media content.

It was clear from her now-viral rant video that she did not have permission to film in the airport.

As some of her followers sympathised with her and other content creators, she was also called out for her entitlement and thinking that content creators were above the law simply because some counties in the country had lifted restrictions on filming in restricted areas, such as Nairobi. In contrast, other counties had not done the same.

Although Miss Trudy felt she had done nothing wrong, countries like the UK know it is illegal and advise their visiting citizens accordingly.

“Taking photographs of official buildings, including embassies, can lead to arrest. If in doubt, don’t photograph or film around them. Photography is also prohibited at airports,” the British government advises its citizens.

Also read: Taking photos banned at Entebbe Airport after staff bribery videos are leaked