Press Freedom and Media’s Role in Conflict and Peace-building Case of the Post-2007 Election Crisis in Kenya


For years, Kenya has been known as an „Isle of Peace‟. This image changed rapidly after the 2007/8 election crisis which left more than 1,200 people dead and over half a million internally displaced. Other serious human rights, including freedom of movement, assembly and opinion were violated. The Commission of Inquiry set to investigate the violence has attributed the crisis to unresolved historical grievances. However, the government and international agencies blame some sections of the media, for inflaming violence and ethnic hatred among Kenyans (KNCHR, 2008). Although Kenya remains East African‟s economic hub, its system of governance is riddled with rampant corruption, impunity and ethnic divisionism. The media is one of the most vibrant institutions. It is vocal on political and socio-economic developments. In so far, much has been written on the role of the media in the conflict, but little on their role in peace-building. Yet, peace remains a human rights concern locally and internationally. This thesis investigates the human rights dimension in conflict and peace-building by focusing on the said case. Specifically, it will: a) study the role of the media as an agenda setter for human rights b) develop a framework of analysis using Fairclough‟s approach to Discourse Analysis to illustrate how „freedom of the media‟ is understood within Kenyan legislation in relation to human rights c) contribute to policy and research. The study is grounded within media theories hereunder; the normative roles of the media as agents of order, public sphere, and mobiliser. It employs the agenda setting theory (McCombs and Shaw, 1972) on how the media reinforces public discourses on political processes, to explain concepts. The agenda setting role provides a theoretical assumption of the responsibility of the media in preserving rights and freedoms. I argue that the media‟s agenda to promote human rights can only be achieved within an independent free media guarded by working legislations and effective monitoring systems.


Masters Thesis


Press Freedom and Media‟s Role, Media in Conflict and Peace-building, Post-election violence in Kenya and human rights.


Ouma L. R. (2011): Press Freedom and Media’s Role in Conflict and Peace-building Case of the Post-2007 Election Crisis in Kenya.: Spring 2011