US Ambassador Meg Whitman condemns attack on journalists during Azimio demos

United States of America Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman. [File, Standard]

The United States Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman has condemned the attack on journalists by police officers during the recent Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya protests.

Whitman says a free press is critical in the development of any democracy.

Taking to her Twitter page on Friday, March 31, she said: "The United States is deeply concerned by recent reports of attacks against journalists. Protecting press freedom and safety is a cornerstone of democracy."

Her remarks come a day after several journalists were injured in the line of duty.

Nation Media Group cameraman Eric Isinta, his Standard Group counterpart Timon Abuna and Royal Media Services Limited cameraman Dismas Nabiswa were among those who were injured as police repulsed Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya protesters.

It is alleged police officers are largely behind the attacks that appear to target journalists.

Since the demos began on March 20, at least 20 journalists have either been attacked or robbed of their work equipment in what is turning out to be a dangerous affair for newsmen and women.

Condemning the attacks, the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has urged journalists to exercise caution, especially when there are chances of them coming into contact with hostile or violent news subjects.

"The council encourages editors and reporters preparing for assignment to prioritise risk assessment while in the field, including boarding politicians' vehicles and wearing appropriate safety gear for protection," said the Media Council of Kenya.

On Thursday, March 30, a host of journalists in Nairobi were injured after police officers stopped and hurled several teargas canisters into a vehicle they were travelling in.

Nation Group's Eric Isinta and Standard Group's Timon Abuna were among the journalists seriously injured, and had to be taken to hospital for treatment.