Kenyan Media Mark World Press Freedom Day With Little to Celebrate

By Otsieno Namwaya
Published May 5, 2018

Police beat up women in a Nairobi toilet.The media fraternity in Kenya has marked the world in marking World Press Freedom Day 2018 under a hostile and uncertain environment for the media as police and senior state officials increasingly get away with physical attack or open threats to journalists covering ‘sensitive’ issues.

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The ability of journalists to report and comment freely continue to be undermined by state officials. On March 26, 2018, anti-riot police physically attacked journalists as they reported on the airport scuffle that ensued during deportation of political activist and lawyer Joshua Miguna to Canada via Dubai.

On January 30, 2018, the government had switched off three television stations that defied a state directive not to accord live coverage to opposition leader Raila Odinga’s mock swearing in as the People’s President.

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Nation TV cameraman Robert Gichira says he was tripped and kicked to the ground by police at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on March 26, 2018. Nation Media Group pic.jpgOn August 12, 2017, according to Standard newspaper, police arrested a Kenya Television Network (KTN)’s journalist while reporting on violent post-election protests in Nairobi’s Kibera slum for allegedly possessing a helmet and body armor without a proper license.

The same month, police snatched the phone of a reporter with public-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and deleted his photographs of the August protests.

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Also in August 2017, police harassed reporters from the privately-owned Citizen Television at the Miruka Hotel, Kisumu, and injured at least two international journalists.

Kenyan authorities should ensure full respect for international law by allowing open reporting and commentary on any issues of pressing public interest. Unless they do, Kenyan media and journalists have more to worry about than to celebrate during this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

A Human Rights Watch article.

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