Let’s protect journalists’ and media rights

Journalist covering a past press conference.

Some senior politicians have been threatening journalists, especially when they cover or report a story that discloses their dark secrets.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The MCK says that since January this year alone, it has recorded 45 cases of press freedom violations, most of them linked to electioneering. 
  • Threats will incite the public and supporters against the media, thus exposing journalists and media practitioners to rights violations.


It’s almost becoming the norm to violate journalists’ rights. It’s now less than a month to the August 9 General Election and we expect total peace and unity. 

Unfortunately, there are certain barriers as journalists’ rights are violated on the campaign trail.

In a statement two months ago, the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) cautioned against such violations.

Kenya has been facing this challenge for years but, sadly, a lasting solution is yet to be found.

Politicians are the worst perpetrators, despite their standing in society. 

The MCK says that since January this year alone, it has recorded 45 cases of press freedom violations, most of them linked to electioneering. 

Some months ago, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi attacked Citizen TV verbally to intimidate its editorial team.

Days later, South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro castigated the media outlet for alleged biased reporting.

Protection

It should be well understood that journalists are professionals and their work is guided by a professional code of conduct with sufficient mechanisms for self-regulation both at the industry and individual levels.

The Constitution also offers protection. It is, therefore, wrong for politicians to go to a point of erecting barriers. This is unlawful and demands urgent recourse.

In many cases, some senior politicians have been threatening journalists, especially when they cover or report a story that discloses their dark secrets.

It’s journalists, to tell the truth to society if certain politicians are not doing what is right.

They are free to investigate and broadcast to the public so that corrective measures are taken before the worse happens.

As election campaigns enter the home straight, some politicians continue taking advantage of the upcoming election to threaten journalists and media outlets, saying a certain candidate is receiving more media coverage than others.

Such threats, if not brought to an end, will incite the public and supporters against the media, thus exposing journalists and media practitioners to rights violations as far as their day-to-day activities are concerned.

It’s high time the government, together with the MCK, fastened their belts and took action against politicians at the forefront of violating journalists’ rights.

They should act without fear, though guided by law, and the perpetrators should be prosecuted. 

Every country yearns for peaceful elections, and Kenya is no exception. Therefore, let a solution be found. The authorities must walk the talk. 

Let all politicians preach peace during their campaigns and understand that their political speeches can either build or destroy our country. 

Rodgers Otiso, Nakuru

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