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“It’s unlawful,” Editors Guild, Media Council condemn attacks on journalists during opposition protests.

The Kenya Editors’ Guild and the Media Council, have condemned attacks on journalists covering anti-government protests in Nairobi.In a statement, Kenya Editors’ Guild head Churchill Otieno said increasing cases of violent attacks on journalists were “worrying”.


Otieno said police were involved in the harassment of journalists covering the opposition protests in the city on Monday.


According to the scribe, two journalists from Africa Uncensored Group were on Monday detained and later released, one losing his phone in the process.Otieno alleged that two journalists from Royal Media Services were roughed up in Fort Jesus and Olympic areas of Kibera.


In a separate incident, a journalist from Agence France Press (AFP) and another from Chinese TV (CGTN) were also roughed up in the Olympic area.He further noted that a journalist from NTV was forced by police to delete what they had already recorded.


“These attacks against journalists amount to assault against constitutional guarantees of media freedom, perpetrated by the presumed guardians of law and order,” Otieno stated.


“The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Kenya is explicit on the entrenched right of the media to operate without hindrance, along with rights to freedom of expression and the right to receive and impart information granted to all in Kenya…”Article 34 (2) makes it clear that the State shall not interfere with any person engaged in broadcasting, production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium; or penalise any person for any opinion or view or the content of any broadcast or publication.”


The guild argued that the incidents amount to assault against freedom of the media and called on the state to deal firmly with officers involved in harassment of members of the press.


“If the police officers who offend these Constitutional provisions do so as agents of the State, it can be inferred that the State is wilfully violating freedom of the Media. If that is not the case, then we expect that the State will act firmly and decisively against rogue officers besmirching its reputation,” he added.

…”In that regard, we demand that journalists be allowed to do their work without the interference of police, instead ask that police officers accord journalists the necessary security to carry out their duties.”


At the same time, Media Council CEO David Omwoyo also condemned the assault on journalists and destruction of media equipment.Omwoyo said attacks on journalists by goons and law enforcement officers can not be tolerated.


“Police officers attacking journalists undermines press freedom, limits the public’s access to information, violates human rights and can cause physical or psychological harm.


“It is essential that journalists are able to carry out their work without fear of violence or harassment, and that law enforcement agencies are held accountable for any actions that violate their rights or impede their ability to report on events,” Omwoyo said.


The council said it will work with law enforcement agencies to ensure those responsible for the attacks are brought to book.

Article By Suzy Nyongesa.


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