Media Council condemns attack on Standard, Star journalists

Media Council of Kenya CEO David Omwoyo during stakeholders meeting at the Serena Hotel on September 16, 2021. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Media Council of Kenya has called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) to take stern action against parties and aspirants that condone violence against members of the media.

While reacting to an incident where two journalists were attacked while covering an event at the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) headquarters in Nairobi, the media watchdog said that it is concerned by the rising cases of attack on journalists.

"The Council is concerned at political party orchestrated violence against journalists and lack of investigations on such and is calling upon the Inspector General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai, to arrest the perpetrators,” read a statement from the Council.

This comes after Standard Group Journalist Moses Nyamori and his colleague from The Star Newspapers were allegedly attacked by goons at Orange House today.

The goons are reported to have accused the two scribes of tainting the image of the party by writing stories that they perceive as 'negative'.

"The two journalists were singled out days after stories published under their bylines on Thursday, March 17, attracted verbal attacks and threats from specific party officials who had been quoted in the story.

“Profiling of journalists by leaders and supporters of political parties goes against Article 34 and 35 of the constitution on freedom of media and access to information,” added MCK in a statement.

MCK wants ODM leadership to shed light on the attack on the two journalists.

“The Media Council of Kenya calls on ODM leadership led by its leader Raila Odinga, who was hosting today’s event, to disown such acts of violence against the media and commit to non-interference in the work of media workers in all its activities henceforth,” he noted.

The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) also weighed in on the matter, saying they will hold liable any individuals or parties that met violence on members of the press.

“We demand that the hooligans who believe that assaulting journalists is the only way to express the misguided frustration are identified and handed over to the police by the conveners of today’s news event immediately,” reads KJU’s statement signed by Secretary-General Eric Oduor.

"We will hold conveners of press conferences and organisers of political rallies liable should journalists be attacked in the line of duty. No amount of harassment and intimidation will stop journalists from carrying out their duty professionally in line with the code of conduct that guides their work," KUJ stated.

Crime Journalists’ Association of Kenya (CJAK) called on the National Police Service to move with speed and arrest the culprits.

“We are calling on ODM to avail the goons who attacked journalists, to the National Police Service, for prompt action against them. We are also calling on the National Police Service to initiate a manhunt of the perpetrators and ensure justice is served," said CJAK.

Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign released a statement saying that they will respond to the allegations at an opportune time.

“The attention of Azimio La Umoja Movement has been drawn to reports of an assault on the members of the media by individuals purportedly associated with the Orange Democratic Movement.

“ODM and Azimio la Umoja Movement campaign have zero tolerance to any form of intimidation and violence, including journalists.

“We are reviewing the reports of the attack and will respond to them as appropriate.”

This is not the first time that a journalist is being attacked on the line of duty. In the run-up to 2017, Citizen and NTV Journalists Francis Gachuri and Jane Gatwiri were roughed up at a National Super Alliance (NASA) event after goons invaded the venue.

This year alone, six journalists have been attacked across the country while discharging their duties.

Between 2006 and 2020, over 1,200 journalists across the world have reportedly lost their lives in violence-related cases.