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September 23, 2018

Police ‘prey’ on journalists covering demos in Kisumu

Anti-riot police during protests at Kondele, Kisumu on August 11, 2017/MAURICE ALAL
Anti-riot police during protests at Kondele, Kisumu on August 11, 2017/MAURICE ALAL

Journalists in Kisumu have become “prey” to police officers and have been arrested, intimidated, harassed and barred from covering post-election demonstrations.

Police have targetted journalists who are exposing the “inhumane” manner they are dealing with citizens during house-to-house raids for the past three days.

Citizen TV cameraman Justus Netia and reporter Wilkister Nyabwa were arrested, harassed and intimidated by police.

Netia told the Star on the phone that they were arrested at Miruka Hotel next to Aga Khan Hospital on Sunday at 9.30pm.  He added that they were on top of the facility to get an aerial view of Kisumu city.

“We had just finished doing the 9pm news link when were rounded up by two police Land Cruisers,” he said on Monday.

Netia linked their arrest to the story aired on Citizen on how police raided houses in Manyatta, Obunga, Kondele and Nyalenda and beat up residents.

 “We suspect they were tailing us. Some of them were communicating with their colleagues on phone,” the cameraman said.

He added that the officers harassed and intimidated them, claiming that some “neighbours have reported suspicious characters”.

“They interrogated us at the scene. They took our details, names, ID numbers, phone numbers and job card details,” Netia added.

 

Released after talk with commander

It took the intervention of other journalists, led by Allan Obiero of Radio Ramogi, who called the county police commander, Titus Yoma, to have them released.

Kisumu-based Citizen TV cameraman Alex Obado escaped unhurt after being attacked by a mob in Kondele. They pelted him with stones as he fled. A boda boda rider who escaped with him was hit with a stone.

On Thursday, local and international journalists were blocked from covering the running battles between police and protesters in the Kondele and Carwash estates.

The officers chased away journalists when they started using live bullets on the protesters.

Residents took to the streets, demanding transparency in the poll process, following alleged manipulation of the presidential results.

One of the journalists said the officers ordered them not to take photos and videos.

He said the police threatened to shoot them if they captured the running battles.  

A KBC journalist said he was harassed and intimidated by police on Carwash estate.

GSU officers confiscated his phone and deleted all photos and videos then released him.

Kisumu Journalists’ Network chairman Dickson Odhiambo urged police to respect the work of journalists. He termed the arrests, intimidation and harassment attempts to gag them and prevent them from doing their work.

“The attack on journalists on duty should stop. We are appealing to the government to ensure [our] safety,” Odhiambo said. “Police should know we are on duty just like them.”

Kisumu county commissioner Maalim Mohammed said he has discussed the matter with county police commanders.

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