A journalists’ union says it will appeal a decision by a Kenyan court to jail a Tuko News Editor for reportedly misreporting a story on the National Youth Service (NYS) corruption scandal.

Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) made the vow after a Nairobi Magistrate sentenced Didacus Malowa to serve six months in jail or pay a fine of Sh50,000 for the published story.

In a statement on Monday, KUJ Secretary General Eric Oduor faulted the court for its decision saying the Tuko boss was sentenced without getting a chance to defend himself.

Eric Oduor. 

Magistrate Eunice Nyutu, in her court decision, insisted that the Tuko story had damaged the reputation of a witness in the NYS case, was defamatory and that it is punishable by law.

In spite of the court receiving the editor’s apology confirming Tuko had pulled down the story, Nyutu said the penalty will act as a warning to all journalists not to misreport stories.

Oduor termed the ruling an infringement of the journalist’s rights to media freedom saying the Constitution stipulates what criteria someone offended by a media report should follow.

Tuko team during a past retreat. PHOTO/TUKO

“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," said Oduor.

He added: “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. It is incumbent on Courts to strictly adhere to these mechanisms and procedures to ensure the rule of law and democratic governance prevails."