Kenya: Union urges government to tackle police brutality against media

The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) has accused the authorities of not responding to cases of police brutality filed by journalists and warned the government it will denounce the situation at the UN if action is not taken immediately. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Kenyan affiliate in condemning police violence against journalists and urging the government to hold those responsible accountable.

Credit: Simon Maina / AFP

Police violence against journalists has become widespread in Kenya, where several journalists have been attacked in the last two weeks alone. On Monday, January 13, photojournalist Labang Wallonga was beaten by a police officer while covering a protest against Standard Gauge Railways by locals and the business community in Mombasa. According to KUJ, it is not the first time the photojournalist has been attacked by police officers.

Another journalist, Ian Byron, was hit on the head with a bottle by Governor Okoth Obado’s aide in Migori, south-west of Kenya. Both journalists work for the Daily Nation, one of the main independent newspapers in Kenya.

Media workers have repeatedly denounced police violence cases at local police stations; however, not a single one has been investigated so far. The KUJ has accused the government of failing to comply with its commitment to implement the UN's Plan on Action on the safety of journalists.

KUJ General Secretary, Erick Odour, said: “If no action is taken against violators of media freedom, we will have no choice but to take the matter to the UN through the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) during the next reporting session.

The IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger said: “It is unacceptable for those who are committed to protecting citizens, to be the ones who trample upon human rights. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Kenya and will fully support them at international level if the authorities continue ignoring police attacks against media workers.”

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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