PRESS FREEDOM AT RISK

Attacking media breaches the law, denies citizens info

in 2017, the media was shut down and live coverage of Raila's swearing in banned

In Summary

• Reporters Without Borders 2019 report shows a drop in Kenyan media's freedom at 100 out of 179 nations. 

• Subjecting journalists to fear and violence in their line of work is curtailing the citizens' freedom to access to information.  

A group of journalists protest over harassment and killing of journalists
NO FREEDOM: A group of journalists protest over harassment and killing of journalists
Image: IVY NJERI

Under the law, a journalist has the right to seek or receive information held by another person.

Frequent reports of citizens and even politicians harassing journalists show a breach of the law. Numerous attacks against journalists have been witnessed recently. Physical attacks, arrests, being denied access to some areas and receiving various forms of threats to the members of the Fourth Estate have become rampant.

In the run-up and aftermath of 2017 general elections and repeat presidential election, journalists worked in a very challenging environment. Live coverage of events such as the swearing-in of ODM leader Raila Odinga as The People’s President was banned and the media shut down.

The President has even been caught on camera saying newspapers are for wrapping meat. This shows the extent of the attack on the Kenyan press, yet when we miss a major story, we are the first to slam the media for not doing their job of keeping us in the loop.

Subjecting journalists to fear and violence in their line of work is curtailing the citizens’ freedom to access to information. Under the Kenyan Constitution, every person has the right to receive any information or idea held by the state or any other individual.

This can only be achieved by allowing reporters to work freely without intimidation. The government should ensure freedom of expression, freedom of the media and access to information in addition to the Media Council Act 2013 are functionally intertwined. This will subject everyone to respect the press in their work. 

A while ago, Kenya media freedom was ranking high. But this year’s Reporters Without Borders report indicates a significant drop in which Kenya sits at position 100 out of 179 countries.

 

Nairobi