Journalists March to DCI Following Threats Over KDF Covid-19 Story

Journalists escort two fellow reporters to DCI offices in Nakuru County on April 9, 2020.
Journalists escort two fellow reporters to DCI offices in Nakuru County on April 9, 2020.

Journalists banded together in unity to accompany two of their colleagues summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Tuesday, April 7.

The Nakuru based journalists were accompanying two reporters, Julius Chepkwony and Daniel Chege who had been summoned on Monday, April 6 over an article stating that the Lanet Barracks was under lockdown owing to Covid-19.

The two reporters are among the journalists that have been allegedly targetted by law enforcement officers for reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters along Kiambu Road
Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters along Kiambu Road
Simon Kiragu

A statement published by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR) has identified four other journalists who have been singled out by police officers while on the job.

These include Mombasa based NTV Journalist Peter Wainaina who was beaten by police officers in the coastal region while covering protests on Friday, March 27.

Similarly, John Wanyama and Charles Kerecha, both journalists from Citizen TV were arrested in Uasin Gishu on Sunday, March 29 for holding interviews during the prescribed curfew hours. 

KNHCR has registered its condemnation of this intimidation of journalists stating that the trend is unfortunate given the media's key role in fighting the pandemic.

"In all these efforts the media is a very critical and an important cog to deliver the much-needed results of fighting this pandemic," read the statement in part.

The Human rights organisation further decried the targeting of specific journalist stating that it placed their lives at risk.

"Calling out of these journalists instead of their respective publishers exposes them to grave danger and compromises their safety and security," asserted the Council.

The Human Rights group called on the government to act on its mandate to protect journalists as they reported on the global issue.

A photo of a team of Journalists at Mitihani House During Releasing of KCPE Results on Monday November 18, 2019.
A team of Journalists at Mitihani House during the release of KCPE Results on Monday, November 18, 2019.
Simon Kiragu

"The public has a right to receive information and this requires an enabling and secure environment for the enjoyment of this right. This environment should and can only be provided by the State, through its agents, as the principal duty bearer," read part of the Council's statement.

The Human Rights Organisation concluded that it would continue its push for the rights of journalists while reporting on the pandemic continued.

"Until we see the rights of journalist protected, KNCHR shall not relent in its pursuit for media freedom in Kenya. As a nation, we must demand that the members of the fourth estate feel secure to carry out their duties without intimidation and coercion especially during this period that the Government is uniting the country in the fight against the novel Coronavirus," concluded the statement.

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