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November 18, 2018

KNCHR slams Muturi over summons to 'People Daily' writers

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. /FILE
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. /FILE

KNCHR has asked National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Parliament to desist from disclosing personal information of journalists and their sources.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said that media freedom is paramount in the country.

"Media freedoms all over the world are premised on the protection of news sources," the commission said.

This followed the recent summons directed to two People Daily journalists by the speaker over a story on corruption allegations in the corridors of the August House.

Muturi summoned parliamentary reporters Dinah Ondari and Anthony Mwangi to face the Powers and Privileges Committee over the article titled "House of Bribes" which was published on Monday, July 30.

Read: Muturi summons People Daily journalists over 'House of bribes' story

It said the committees have largely been turned into avenues for positions which provide an opportunity for rent-seeking, cover-ups and shoddy investigations.

The reporters claimed that Sh500 million has exchanged hands in questionable dealings between the MPs and various parties under probe by the 12th Parliament.

Muturi, while defending his decision, said the move was not aimed at gagging the media.

He said it will be to give the reporters an opportunity to shed light on what they might be knowing about the alleged bribery claims.

The speaker directed that the meeting is chaired by Mukurweini MP Anthony Kiai who will be deputised by West Mugirango MP Vincent Mugaka.

However, KNCHR said summoning the two journalists before the Parliamentary Committee exposes them to grave danger.

"The public calling out of their names on the floor of Parliament instead of their respective publisher(s) exposes them to grave danger and compromises their right to safety and security," KNCHR stated.

The human rights body said the stance was a means used to press the two journalists to reveal their sources.

"KNCHR takes exception to the stance taken to press the two journalists to reveal their sources in respect to the published story."

The Commission further called upon the Parliament leadership to use clear procedures of summons while ensuring that the rights of the two journalists are respected in pursuant to Article 10 of the Constitution.

It also urged Muturi to take all measures to protect the rights of the two journalists and particularly to ensure their parliamentary privileges are retained and respected.

Muturi, however, has earlier today said he will support journalists as they cover all happenings in the Parliament noting that there were divided opinions on the summon.

"Right to information is sacred, will be protected in the National Assembly," Muturi wrote on Twitter.

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