A journalists body from Kenya has condemned an attack on four journalists by a politician in Oyugis Town, Homabay County in the Western part of the country.
Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) says the scribes were attacked on Monday as they investigated a story in which a local politician is alleged to have defiled a secondary school girl.
“According to reports from a KCA press freedom monitor on the ground and in the local media, a team of journalists from Nation Media Group, Otieno Owida, Ouko Okusah, Brian Yonga and Tom Otieno were accosted at a local hotel by a mob that had the guts to harass them,” a press statement from KCA read in part.
The attackers numbering over 20 were reportedly unhappy with the journalists for following up the defilement case of the politician who has expressed interest in vieying for the Kasipul/Kabondo parliamentary seat in the coming general elections.
The group is said to have roughed up the journalists and attempted to eject them out of the hotel. The rowdy mob backed off temporarily when one of the journalists started covering the incident.
As the scribes left the hotel, one of the assailants attempted to pullout the journalists’ driver from their car. The journalists then drove off and reported the incident at a local police station.
“We find it unacceptable for a leader to want to bar journalists from doing their work. This is an infringement on press freedom and we demand that those who attacked the journalists and the politician on whose directions they acted be arrested and charged in court,” said KCA Chairman Oloo Janak in reaction to the incident.
Janak said KCA was alarmed by the increasing attacks and intimidation of journalists in the country by state and non state actors whose motive he added was to “gag the media and sweep certain issues that deserve public attention under the carpet.”
“We urge the government, political leaders and other players in the public sphere, who believe that the media is an indispensable ingredient in nurturing democracy, transparency and accountability to back the efforts of protecting the hard won media freedom in this country,” added the KCA Chairman.
KCA, he said was currently assessing the level of safety and security of journalists across the country and would compile a report revealing names of persons and institutions that continuously intimidate and harass journalists besides violating the tenets of press freedom and therefore human rights.
The association has consistently expressed concern over the growing threat to journalists’ safety and security following increasing incidents of direct attacks, intimidation and veiled threats to some of the media personnel.
Janak at the same time urged journalists to maintain high professional ethics in their work to avoid colliding with individuals, institutions or the general public. He emphasized that journalists were obliged to be responsible in their work if the country was to feed on accurate and timely information.
For further information/Enquiries:
Kenbanco House, Moi/Haile Selasie Avenue Junction,