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Editors to DCI: Journalism is not a crime

By Jael Mboga | April 21st 2021

DCI George Kinoti at the DCI headquarters in Kiambu. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The editors' agency has criticised the purported summonses issued by the DCI to Royal Media Services over editorial leadership.

Kenya Editors Guild president Churchill Otieno on Wednesday told Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti there is no criminal investigation against RMS editors and reporters over the production.

Silaha Mtaani/ Guns Galore aired on Citizen TV on April 18. It showed the illegal sale and rental of firearms, uniforms, and handcuffs by members of the National Police Service (NPS) and other security agencies to criminals.

Kinoti on Tuesday denied that guns acquired by Citizen TV for the expose were leased out by policemen.

Otieno said instead, the police should spend time investigating possible criminal activities within its ranks.

“If the Service is unable to probe itself, then we would urge the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to take up the matter, or appoint an independent external investigator,” Otieno said.

In the meantime, Otieno said RMS should ignore the irregular summons and to limit engagement with the police.

“We would also advise Mr Kinoti that the summonses he has issued to RMS are illegal and an affront to constitutional guarantees of media freedom,” he added.

The guild president said the media cannot be held criminally liable for anything done in keeping with its role as a public watchdog.

Otieno cited the law, saying it guarantees every person in Kenya the Freedom of Expression, including the freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas, freedom of artistic creativity, academic freedom, and freedom of scientific research.

He went on, “Section 34 guarantees the Freedom and Independence of electronic, print and all other types of media, and expressly bars State organs from exercising control, interfering with any person engaged in media, or penalising any person for any opinion or view broadcast or published.”

The Editors' guild's comments were ecoed by the Law Society of Kenya, who said the DCI should have "sprung into action to investigate the matter and take remedial action".

A statement signed by LSK president Nelson Havi said it was wrong for Kinoti to rubbish the expose in defensive retaliation.

"That summonses have been issued to the editors and journalist of the TV station confirms that the police are misdirecting their attention on a matter of great concern to the public," the LSK statement added.

This comes as DCI chief Kinoti said the investigative feature was done to paint police in a bad light.

“No effort [was] made by Citizen TV to reach the police service for clarity,” he said.

The top sleuth said the report adopted a “contemptuous” tone aimed at “undermining efforts by the National Police Service”.

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