Columns And Opinions
Stop attacks by police officers on journalists
The past week has been a difficult one for journalists as they cover the anti-government demonstrations organised by the Azimio la Umoja One coalition.
As professionals, they are expected to be truthful and impartial in their coverage of such occurrences. And this is what most reporters endeavour to do. However, it is never that easy.
From the accounts of several journalists, it is evident that their treatment by the security personnel during the first round of the protests was much better than on Monday. It is a pity that some journalists have been attacked, especially by police officers, while doing their work.
There were incidents in which reporters covering the opposition protests against the high cost of living and the conduct of last year’s elections came under attack from the police. Some snatched their cameras and deleted footage.
At the same time, goons have also been taking advantage of the fluid situation to rob the reporters of cash, phones and other belongings. The targeting of journalists by police and criminal gangs makes their work extremely difficult to execute.
In the running battles between the police and protesters, journalists have continued to be brutalised for doing their job. Some have complained of police hurling tear gas at them even as they brandished their media cards.
This is unacceptable. The duty of the media to accurately cover events and incidents is sacrosanct as the people have a right to know what is happening around them.
The situation has not been helped by the utterances and threats by Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome and some senior government officials against the protesters. These only embolden the rogue officers to violate rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.
What has been happening is an unacceptable assault on the freedoms of association and expression and the constitutional right of the media to perform their watchdog role in society.
The government must protect journalists to do their work in the public interest and within the law, as they strictly adhere to their professional ethics. Only those who err in the discharge of their duties should be sanctioned.
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