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Kenya: Politicians must be held to account for intimidation and harassment of journalists

This statement was originally published on article19.org on 24 August 2016.

ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the increasing attacks targeting journalists in Kenya ahead of the General election slated for August 2017. We call upon the Media Council of Kenya and the National Police Service to investigate and ensure that those responsible for attacks against journalists are held to account.

This wave of intimidations, harassment, and attacks of journalists flies in the face of the gains made so far in protecting and promoting freedom of the media as provided for in Article 34 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, and under international law.

"We urge politicians to stop high-mindedness against journalists, and abide by the constitution and laws regarding freedom of expression," said Henry Maina, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.

In July 2016, two journalists, Moses Masinde of MediaMax Group and Shaban Makokha, were attacked and injured during two separate political rallies by supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

On 22 August, Lamu County based journalist, Jane Wangechi, was physically assaulted and injured by Monica Njambi Kirunyu, a nominated member of Lamu County. The Member of County assembly accused Ms Wangechi of providing a video clip as a piece of evidence to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) which is investigating her on hate speech charges.

Grace Gitau of Nation Media Group and Lydia Nyawira of Standard Group were physically assaulted on 23 August, with their equipment confiscated by certain Nyeri County Assembly members, while covering a heated motion in the assembly.

These attacks and harassments set a worrisome trend for journalists as the country gears up to the general election next year.

"We call upon relevant authorities to carry out thorough investigation into these incidences and press charges against the perpetrators of such violations immediately," added Maina.

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