The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today has called authorities and security forces in Kenya to safeguard safety and security of journalists ahead of General elections after a journalist was beaten up in the course of his work by security personnel locally known as the General Service Unit (GSU). General elections will be held in Kenya on tomorrow Monday 4 March 2013, electing the President, senators, county governors, members of Parliament, etc. According to Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA), an IFJ affiliate, journalist Habil Onyango with the Star Newspaper based in Homa Bay Town in Western Kenya was on Saturday March 2, beaten up by GSU as he was covering a confrontation between supporters of two parliamentary rival candidates. “We vigorously denounce this attack. We call on authorities in Kenya to stop the intimidation, harassment and physical danger journalists covering the electoral process are facing,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director. Habil Onyango was kicked and punched by GSU, KCA stated. GSU officers declined to recognize his press card and flung him into a lorry before driving him to the local police station where he was released in great pain. They failed to take away his camera. The IFJ is very concerned about the safety and security of journalists in Kenya. IFJ joins its KCA affiliate to state that safety is an important prerequisite for achieving freedom of expression, democracy, social development and peace. “We call on the security forces to not only stop attacks on journalists but to offer the necessary protection to guarantee their safety and security on the polling day and during the post election period,” said William Oloo Janak, national chairman Kenya Correspondents Association.
Janak added that a number of journalists have
been operating under threats and a climate of fear over the electioneering
period, especially over the past two months. During the party primaries journalists
reported threats in Homabay, Migori and Siaya in the Nyanza Region (southwest).
Reports of threats, and in some cases, attacks, have also been received from
journalists in Nandi, Eldoret, Kitale and Nakuru in the Rift Valley, in Nanyuki
in Central Kenya, Nairobi, the capital, Mombasa and Tana River in the Coast
“We demand that all
journalists in the area are left to work without hindrance and threats, which
they have had to endure since mid January after chaotic political party
primaries,” added William Oloo Janak.
More than 200 Kenyan
journalists were affected by the conflict following the December 2007 General elections,
either through threats, attacks and trauma. Some of the journalists were either
displaced or had to flee from their work places because of threats and fear of
violence which was largely ethnic in nature.
“When journalists are
threatened, attacked or killed, citizens are deprived of the necessary
information to develop their own opinions and take informed decisions about
their lives and development”, Baglo added.
For more information, pleasecontact IFJ: +221 33 867 95 86 The IFJ represents over 600.000 journalists in134 countries