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43 scribes assaulted as media freedom declines

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

More than 40 journalists were physically assaulted before, during and after the bungled 2017 General Election. A report released by civil society group­­­ — Article 19 — on World Press Freedom Day yesterday shows that media freedom in Kenya is on the decline.

The report also says Kenya is the most unsafe country for journalists and other media workers in East Africa. Dubbed Kenya: Violations of media freedom 2017-18, the lobby analysed the increasing violation of rights against journalists in three countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and the impact it has had on impunity. “Media freedom was clearly in decline in 2017.

Political instability around the disputed presidential election in August which saw mass protests met by excessive use of force by police, was accompanied by dozens of violations against journalists and media workers trying to report on political issues and protests,” said Article 19 chairman, John Gachie.

According to the report, 43 journalists were physically assaulted during the monitoring period and one received death threats, while three TV stations were shutdown for covering content seen as undesirable by the government. However, in Uganda the number of those who whose rights were violated reduced from 135 to 75 for the same period with Tanzania recording the least number of cases at 19.

“Cases of attacks on freedom of expression were documented in 15 of the country’s 47 counties. Supporters of various political factions were the main culprits followed by police, private individuals and unknown assailants. Politics and elections, security and corruption were among the top dangerous stories to report between the periods monitored,” he said.

Nairobi remains the most risky county with a total of 30 attacks recorded followed by Kisumu with 14 attacks and surprisingly Turkana county with 12 attacks. Bungoma, Isiolo, Malindi and Kajiado were termed as the less risky counties with all of them recording only one attack.

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