The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has strongly condemned the harassment and intimidation of journalists in the country
The rights body says journalists providing coverage on the unfolding of the current COVID 19 pandemic in the country have been subjected to harassment and other forms of human rights violation executed by security agents.
The commission expressed its displeasure and concern over the harassment and intimidation meted against journalists in Mombasa, Meru, Eldoret and Nakuru.
“These journalists provide the much needed information on the Covid-19 pandemic why oppress them?” posed KNCHR CEO Dr. Bernard Mogesa.
He blamed the government for going against its own vow in ensuring Kenyans get the right information at grassroots level so that they prevent the pandemic.
“The Government reiterated that the fight towards the containment of COVID-19 disease calls for concerted efforts of all Kenyans and as a Commission we are supportive of all its initiatives, journalist are critical in preventing the disease through imparting the right information to the public,” added Dr. Mogesa.
Mombasa based NTV Journalist Peter Wainaina, Meru based Weru TV journalist Gregory Muriithi were harassed and beaten up by law enforcement officers.
Citizen TV Eldoret based journalists, John Wanyama and Charles Kerecha also faced the same intimidation from security agents.
[NTV Journalist Peter wainaina who was recently assaulted by GSU officers at the Likoni ferry channel. Photo/courtesy].
The government also summoned two Nakuru based Standard Group journalists Julius Chepkwony and Daniel Chege over stories pertaining to the curfew and lockdown due to the novel Corona virus.
According to the human rights body, there has been a bid to coerce the journalists to disclose their sources of information.
“All these instances smirk intimidation, harassment and threats to members of the fourth estate. Media etiquette all over the world is succinct when it comes to the protection of news sources,” added Dr. Mogesa.
He applauded journalists for working round the clock to make sure the communities where they are reporting from are well informed as the COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Mogesa urged the government to recognise the efforts the media is doing to combat the pandemic.
The human right body re-emphasized the rights provided for in the constitution that guarantees unrestricted press freedom.
“The Commission further wishes to remind the State of its most recent undertaking at the international level before the Human Rights Council in January 2020, where it committed to ensure safety of journalist as well as guarantee the freedoms of expression, press, association and peaceful assemblies and to ensure attacks against journalists and human rights defenders are properly investigated,” reiterated The Commission’s Secretary and CEO.
The Commission has vowed not to relent in the pursuit for media freedom in the country.