Friday, 25 October 2013

Leaders condemn Kimaiyo’s attempt to silence reporters

Lawyers and human rights groups Thursday condemned police threats on journalists and vowed to oppose proposals by the government to stifle freedom of expression.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the government’s own Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), the Editors Guild, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) led the condemnation.
Their rebuke comes a day after Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo warned that action would be taken against journalists whom he accused of inciting Kenyans against the authorities.
“You cannot provoke propaganda and incite Kenyans against the authorities,” Mr Kimaiyo said on Wednesday.
Thursday, the police summoned the Standard Group chief executive Sam Shollei and KTN investigative reporters John Allan Namu and Mohammed Ali for interrogation over their coverage of the Westgate rescue operation. However, the summons were later cancelled.
The summons come against the backdrop of an attempt to silence the media through the enactment of the Media Council (Amendment) Bill and the Kenya Information and Communication Authority Bill.
KNCHR termed the threats by the police boss to arrest the three as “irredeemably erroneous.”
The commission also noted that the rights provided for in the Constitution and international instruments ratified by Kenya were guaranteed, and were not enjoyed by Kenyans at the pleasure of the State or any agency.
“The attempt to harass journalists is an indication that certain individuals are yet to reconcile themselves to the changed environment ushered in by the Constitution,” the commission’s acting chairperson Ann Ngugi said in a statement.
LSK chairman Eric Mutua also dismissed the threats to the media. He called for the security chiefs to resign and an independent commission to probe the attack formed.
“We hope it is not a coincidence that the statement was issued when there is an attempt to further muzzle the media through the recently introduced Bills” he said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists also warned that the police threats and proposed laws were indications that Kenya’s media risk losing their freedom.
“Kenya has a statutory media council designed to handle media disputes. Mr Kimaiyo should follow his nation’s procedures,” the international body said in a statement to newsrooms.
The Kenya Editors’ Guild also expressed its “shock and dismay” over the threats by the police boss.
The editors asked Mr Kimaiyo to file a complaint with the Complaints Commission within the Media Council.
Uhuru’s example
“President Kenyatta himself has once sought the indulgence of the commission over what he felt was reportage prejudicial to his reputation. So, why shouldn’t Mr Kimaiyo follow the President’s example?” the statement read.   
The KUJ also condemned Mr Kimaiyo’s move, terming it an attempt to limit media freedom in Kenya.
Through its secretary-general Jared Obuya, the union maintained that the journalists aired what was eminently objective and fair.
He accused the government of issuing misleading and contradictory information over the Westgate attack.

No comments:

Post a Comment