Thursday, December 22, 2011

Statement by Kenya Union of Journalists on deteriorating media conditions in Kenya

The Kenya Union of Journalists is alarmed by the dangerous increase in acts of intimidation and threats against the lives of journalists in this country by state security agents.

At a time when the media should be enjoying its new protections enshrined in the constitution, it appears that the state security apparatus has become the most serious threat to press freedom and the practice of journalism in Kenya.
We are particularly concerned that little is being done to protect Standard Group investigative journalists Dennis Onsarigo, Mohammed Ali and Robert Wanyonyi from people believed to be in the security system who have been threatening their lives when they have only been doing their work.
It is noteworthy that Mr Onsarigo and Mr Ali aired investigative stories touching on corruption and extra-judicial killings in the police force. It is also interesting that Mr Wanyonyi had incriminating footage of another arm of the security apparatus – the provincial administration.
Hardly two years since Weekly Citizen journalist Francis Nyaruri was killed over an investigative story he had been pursuing and in which the police were adversely mentioned, his killers are yet to be brought to book.
It is very clear that the force is dragging its investigations due to its own fears of implicating itself. We are therefore calling for an independent investigation into the increasing violations of press freedom, the freedom of media and freedom of information in this country. The still unreformed police cannot possibly investigate a matter in which they are complicit.
The Kenya Union of Journalists is also deeply concerned by the slow pace of implementing access to information and freedom of information provisions of the Constitution. These laws are direly needed to protect the media especially as the country moves towards the 2012 general elections.
As experience of the recent days shows, the gains in the new Constitution could very easily be watered down by the enemies of press freedom and those determined to control the media. But they must know that Kenyans will not easily allow their hard-won freedoms to be watered down so casually by people living in the past.
These incidents make it imperative that all media stakeholders work together to safeguard journalistic rights which are vital for the development of a truly independent media.
Jared Obuya
Kenya Union of Journalists

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