IFJ Backs Kenyan Journalists Over Government Attack

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the arrests and harassment of a number of journalists working for the East African Standard newspaper in Nairobi, Kenya.

Yesterday, police detained three journalists - Managing Director Tom Mshindi, Associate Editor Kwamchetsi Makokha, and Sunday editor David Makali – all working for the East African Standard. The government was reacting to a story published by the newspaper in the Sunday edition regarding the killing of Bomas II delegate and University of Nairobi lecturer, Dr. Odhiambo Mbai. The article also linked a high-profile government official as one of the principal instigators behind the murder. The police released Mshindi and his colleague Makokha shortly after their arrest but told them to report to police headquarters today.

“This form of intimidation will do nothing to encourage those who hoped that Kenya has embarked upon a new era of democracy and respect for human rights,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Our colleagues must to free to carry out their professional duties in order to maintain the public right to information”.

The IFJ is particularly concerned over reports that journalists have been forced to reveal their sources of information. “Not only is this a direct violation of the Kenyan Code of Conduct for Journalists, but it is an offence against the ethics of journalists worldwide,” said White.

The IFJ is deeply concerned by the rapidly escalating number of brutal attacks on journalists in Kenya over the past number of weeks and says that professional disputes regarding accuracy of published material should be resolved through discussion and dialogue not “political pressure and intimidation”

On September 25, administration police at the NSSF building assaulted a Family Media journalist as he recorded policemen who were demolishing kiosks. The police confiscated his staff ID card and destroyed his video clip and headphones.

Two weeks ago, Thika police assaulted a photojournalist and confiscated his camera after he took pictures of policemen arresting someone.

The IFJ is calling for the journalist still in detention to be released immediately and fully supports their affiliates - the Kenyan Union of Journalists and the Uganda Journalists Union - in their protests against the harassment of our colleagues.

“This latest incident confirms a trend that appears to pose a significant threat to press freedom in Kenya.” We call on the government to lower the temperature and take pressure off journalists,” said White.

Below please find more information on this case:

Kenyan Union of Journalists' Statement

Uganda Journalists' Union Statement

Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries