Japhet Koome: We're investigating journalists' assault claims

Japhet Koome being vetted for the position of Inspector-General of Police on November 8, 2022. The vetting took place at County Hall in Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome has said investigations into journalists’ attack by police officers during Azimio la Umoja demonstrations have commenced.

Speaking at the Kenya School of Government on Tuesday, April 4, Koome said police did not intend to harm journalists on March 20, March 27 and March 30 protests.

“It was not deliberate,” said the inspector-general, adding: “We have no intention of injuring fellow Kenyans.”

“However, when the situation demands, I have a duty to intervene and ensure there is law and order in the country. To ensure that you are able to move freely, and that you can transact your business for the sake of our economy,” said Koome.

The inspector-general issued an apology to journalists injured during the clash between protesters and police officers in the recent demos.

At least 20 journalists countrywide were either injured or robbed while covering the March protests, data by the Media Council of Kenya shows.

Koome joined Kenyans in welcoming the move by President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga to give room for dialogue on the contentious issues.

“They (Azimio la Umoja) called off the demonstrations and are [now] talking [with leaders in government]. This allows police officers to spend more time in crime prevention.”

At the same time, Koome called for a fair review of police officers’ work.

“Don’t accuse the police of rioting, they’re not. Are they hurling any teargas now? They’re not. We are human beings, and we are not pleased when Kenyans get hurt.”