April 25th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Press freedom in Kenya fragile, Standard journalists arrested in Laikipia

A Standard Group manager earlier said the whereabouts of the team's driver Godfrey Kamau and the vehicle they were travelling was yet to be known. But Kenya Union of Journalists secretary general Eric Oduor has confirmed that the journalists were free and had resumed contact with their driver.

By Cynthia Gitaucgitau@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 28 Mar 2017 19:26 EAT

Officials of the Media Council, Kenya Union of Journalists and Association of Media Women express concerns over growing threats to press freedom in Kenya last week.

Barely a week after Siaya based Standard Group journalist Isiah Gwengi was beaten by Administration Police officers and detained overnight, other four journalists from the media house who were covering the police killing of animals in Laikipia were briefly arrested today. The journalists including Victor Ogalle, James Munyeki, Peter Kimani and Joseph Kipsang were detained at Kamwenje police post in neighbouring Nyeri County. 

According to a Standard Group manager who spoke to this website in the afternoon, the whereabouts of the team's driver Godfrey Kamau and the vehicle they were travelling was yet to be known. However, by evening the Kenya Union of Journalists secretary general Eric Oduor informed us that the journalists were free and had resumed contact with their driver.

This incident comes just a few days after another journalist, Osinde Obare, also from the Standard Group, expressed fear for his life after receiving threats from people he suspected to be police officers on Friday March 24 on his way home over an article he published on March 17. Mr Obare said that the two men asked him why he wanted to ruin their reputation and one of them said that he was unhappy with the way he had had been writing negative stories on officers at the patrol base and warned him of dire consequences if he continued offending them.

The police is now fast gaining a reputation for harboring hostility against the press and instances where journalists are being harassed, beaten up, intimidated, experienced unexplained summon by the police, assaulted and even undergone breakage of cameras and equipment, or even killed have highly risen.

Apart from the threats coming from the police, it has been reported that politicians, government officials and members of the public also take part in one way or the other and this have resulted to journalists quitting their job saying that they better stop working than risking their lives. On the other hand, journalists who cover reports on corruption, insecurity, tribal politics and other sensitive issues are often subjected to these attacks. 

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