MCK: Threats Against Kenyan Journalists on Rise

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Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has raised concern over the rising threats of violence and crimes against journalists in the country, which is contrary to freedom of expression and access of information for all people.

According to MCK they have received reports of alleged intimidation against local media stations reporters.

Among journalists who are subjected to alarming threats are related to Citizen TV and Milele FM stations.

In many cases when such tactics of harassment on journalists are not properly investigated, they escalate to even more severe acts of aggression, if not outright murder or forced disappearance.

Following such concerning circumstances, MCK has petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IG) Hilary Mutyambai to investigate the alleged threats against two journalists Richard Sana and Martin Kosgei by persons known to them who are associated with Kenyan Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mr. George Natembeya and a bodyguard of Kericho County Governor respectively.

“The Council is mandated to, among other things, to ensure the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the performance of their duties,” reads part of the letter to the IG by MCK CEO Mr. David Omwoyo.

Over recent years, more journalists have been reported physically injured while performing their duties. Journalists are also commonly subjected to numerous other alarming threats among them kidnapping, torture, and various kinds of other physical attack.

“Since the start of Corona Virus pandemic, there have been at least 48 attacks against Kenyan journalists and restrictions to their work concerning the pandemic.” Reveals a report by Article 19 Eastern Africa.

These threats and attacks against journalists have continued to create a climate of fear for media professionals, hindering the free circulation of information, opinion and ideas.

Amid political campaigns for the August polls, some of the attacks; physical, verbal and online attack have been exacerbated by the political tensions in the country.

According to UNESCO Observatory over 1,200 journalists were killed between the year 2006 and 2020 respectively, with 9 out 10 cases of these killings remaining judicially unresolved.

To end impunity for crimes against journalists in Kenya, MCK has urged journalists to always report such vices to the nearest police station and liaise with MCK regional coordinators in their regions of work for the necessary action to be taken to curb mistreatment against any accredited reporter in order to adhere to the right to freedom of expression for all.

Recently, MCK Coastal Kenya Regional Coordinator Ms. Maureen Mudi had a discussion on regional trends related to safety of journalists, their freedom and the role of judiciary operators in bettering the working relations between journalists and the judicial system in coast region.

Among the issues discussed were the provision of the constitution of Kenya 2010 that provides the freedom of expression and freedom of the media, which includes the freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas without any harassment.

The constitution only limits the right to freedom of expression with respect to propaganda for war, incitement to violence, and advocating hatred on ethnic or other discriminatory grounds.

Thus the government should not exercise control over or interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, the production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium or penalize any person for any opinion or view, or the content of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.

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