Kenya: Media Council Warns Against Press Harassment Ahead of Elections

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has raised concerns about the increase in instances of press harassment in Kenya, as the August 9 elections draw closer.

The Council CEO, David Omwoyo, in a statement, pointed out over 45 instances of harassments against journalists and media outlets in 2022 alone, noting that most were politically triggered.

“The Council is disturbed that such threats are likely to incite the public and political supporters against the media and may thus expose journalists and media practitioners to violations of their rights as they go about their rightful duties.

“Attacks against and intimidation of the media contravenes Articles 34 and 35 of the Constitution on the Freedom of Media and Access to Information.

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“We particularly take note of the latest verbal attack against Citizen TV by Kapseret Member of Parliament Hon Oscar Sudi via a social media post meant to intimidate the editorial discretion of the station.

“We advise politicians and the public that Kenya’s media and journalists are guided by a professional code of conduct, with sufficient mechanisms for self-regulation, both as an industry or at personal level,” the statement said.

Omwoyo said anyone who had issues with the press should take it up with the Media Complaints Commission, and avoid the violations of rights of the media.

Kenya has over the years, earned an unflattering reputation for harassing members of the press in a bid to silence reportage.

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There have been protests in the past years over the constant attacks against journalists in a bid to silence them.

In 2019 during the Covid-19 pandemic, there were at least 48 cases of attacks targeted at journalists. These attacks included violations of free speech, physical assault, threats, harassments, withdrawal of access to public information, etc.

Female journalists have in the same vein, decried verbal and sexual harassment, especially in media spaces.

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