•In a statement on Sunday, Kiai said the number of attacks on journalists rose from 53 between May 2019 and April 2020 to 59 cases of attacks, harassment, intimidation.
•The attacks increased significantly in the first quarter of 2020 with recorded cases reaching 36, this was at the height of Coronavirus pandemic across the country.
Nairobi and Mombasa have been listed as violence hot spots as journalist attacks cases rise to 22 from March to April,2020
As the world celebrates press freedom today, May 3, Article 19 Eastern Africa has noted with concern the rising cases in the number of journalists being attacked during this pandemic.
"A free press cannot thrive in an environment in which journalists are constantly under severe and constant attack: this undermines freedom of expression, and democracy," Regional Director Mugambi Kiai said.
In a statement on Sunday, Kiai said the number of attacks on journalists rose from 53 between May 2019 and April 2020 to 59 cases of attacks, harassment, intimidation.
The attacks increased significantly in the first quarter of 2020 with recorded cases reaching 36, this was at the height of Coronavirus pandemic across the country.
Of the 36 cases recorded, 22 violations took place between March and April, barely two months following the government’s announcement of the first case.
This constitutes 37 per cent of the total violations during the monitoring period.
"These attacks were carried out by security agents, government officials, and organised mobs - including primary school pupils in a manner that clearly demonstrates a sustained effort to stifle and control the press, and limit the free flow of information in 22 Counties," he said.
Nairobi recorded the highest violations with 13 incidents, followed by Mombasa with six and Turkana witnessing four cases.
Other 19 counties recorded between three and one cases each.
The theme of this years press freedom day is "Journalism Without Fear and Favour".
Kiai notes that with this theme, reporting about the coronavirus health crisis, corruption and the 2022 succession politics are the most sensitive stories for journalists to cover in 2020 in Kenya.
“An independent media is crucial for Kenya’s ability to achieve her development agenda including the efforts to contain the raging pandemic and its watchdog role of ensuring that those in power are being held to account,"Kiai said.
Kiai notes that of the 59 violations recorded by ARTICLE 19, only one case involving a non-state actor has been investigated with the perpetrators subsequently being taken to court.
He appealed to the government to uphold freedom of the media and to end attacks on journalists carrying out their work.
The government must work to create an enabling environment for journalists to carry out their duties, without threat of attack or criminalisation.