MCK: Threats against journalists on the rise

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 00:00 | By
Media Council of Kenya (MCK) chairperson Maina Muiruri.

Zadock Angira and Hillary Mageka

Some 62 journalists died globally last year while in their line of duty, according to a United Nations report based on UNESCO findings.

The report says more than 1,200 journalists were killed between 2006 and 2020.

Yesterday, Kenya joined the world in observing the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

Speaking in Nairobi during an event to mark the day, Media Council of Kenya (MCK) chairperson Maina Muiruri said that by October, the council had documented 55 cases of violation of the rights of journalist, with security agencies leading as the source of the threats.

There were 92 and 56 violations documented in 2020 and 2019 respectively. “While many journalists report these cases to police, there is little effort to follow through the process in pursuit for justice either by victims to report or follow up their own cases coupled with weak support by duty bearers from newsroom managers, police and prosecutors,” Muiruri said.

A total of 19 cases are pending investigations with majority of them having stalled. 

In six of the cases the parties in conflict agreed to reconcile while four cases were closed. Only one has been ongoing in court.

Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General Eric Oduor made an emphatic appeal to media owner not to be part of those oppresing journalists by halving their salaries and arbitrarily sacking them.

“I think we must call out these employers to end economic crimes against journalists as we also call out people who attack journalists out there,” he said.

“We must call out impunity and crimes against journalist in our newsrooms. Financial stress has been captured as the leading cause of mental health in newsrooms.”

Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai  said the service was committed to protecting media freedom in line with national and international laws.

UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa Hubert Gijzen said the organisation was worried by the increasing trend of extra-judicial killings targeting journalists.

“Sadly, most of such crimes go unpunished: Out of ten journalists killed, only one gets judicial closure, according to UNESCO’s global monitoring reports.”

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