IFJ calls for more safety of journalists ahead of General elections in Kenya

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

Region.

“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, please

contact IFJ:  +221 33 867 95 86

 The IFJ represents over 600.000 journalists in

134 countries