US condemns attack on journalists during Azimio protests
The US Embassy in Kenya has condemned the shocking attack that was meted out to journalists on Thursday during Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition protests.
Several journalists were injured during the protests after they were caught in between the anti-riot police officers and the protesters.
On Friday, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman termed the attack as a threat to democracy.
“The United States is deeply concerned by recent reports of attacks against journalists. Protecting press freedom and safety is a cornerstone of democracy,” Whitman said.
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On Thursday, which was the third day of Azimio-led anti-government protests, camerapersons and photographers were targeted by the perpetrators of acts of criminality, with one plain clothes police officer captured lobbying teargas canisters inside a vehicle that journalists were using.
According to the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), a total of 25 journalists have been attacked, harassed and arrested while covering the protests.
The council termed March as the darkest month this year for Kenyan media since the clamour for multiparty democracy.
“We have so far documented 25 cases of attacks on local and foreign journalists at the hands of State and non-State actors since the onset of the demonstrations,” MCK said in a statement.
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MCK CEO David Omwoyo has now asked political leaders from both the government and the opposition to spare journalists from their wrangles.
“Journalists are not contestants in the current political processes and it is an unwarranted, gross violation of human rights and an impediment to democracy to target them while knowing they have a duty to inform the public on such matters of public interest”, Omwoyo said.
Further, the council has encouraged editors and reporters preparing for assignment to prioritise risk assessment while in the field including boarding politicians’ vehicles and wearing appropriate safety gear for protection.
Opposition leader Mr Raila Odinga has similarly condemned the attack on journalists as he announced that he will not relent in pushing the government to meet their demands.
“As Kenyans, we have the right to demand a forensic audit of the server to resolve this matter once and for all. Our quest won’t stop and we’ll hold the mother of all demonstrations next Monday, regardless of what our detractors say,” Mr Odinga said.
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