Attacks on journalists in Kenya have increased substantially in 2015, with ARTICLE 19 recording 65 individual attacks from between January and September 2015. On average, seven journalists are attacked every month, and concerningly little is done to address these cases. Today, on International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, ARTICLE 19 is launching its report on attacks on Freedom of Expression in Kenya between January and September 2015.
“Of the 42 incidents recorded by ARTICLE 19, only three have been investigated and the perpetrators taken to court; this is 7% rate: an unacceptably high level of impunity regarding attacks on journalists,” noted Henry Maina ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Regional Director at the launch of our new report report Silenced and Intimidated: Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Kenya.
This new report aims to expose the disturbing trend towards deterioration of freedom of expression and media in Kenya which, ultimately, has far-reaching consequences for the country’s democracy, security, and economic growth. Corruption and protest remained the most sensitive stories for journalists to cover in 2015.
Introduction of devolution has also opened journalists to a barrage of new sensitivities and security challenges: they are being forced to grapple with competing political and inter-ethnic interests, hindering objective reporting on complex local politics.
The determined assault on the media is undermining press freedom, and the safety and security of journalists. Failure to bring those responsible for attacks on journalists to account sends the signal that the media can be silenced through violence, and will ultimately lead to many journalists resorting to self-censorship, hampering the realisation of the right to free expression.
The Kenyan government must take the necessary steps to ensure that journalists are free to carry out their work. A free press can cannot thrive in an environment in which journalists are under severe and constant attack: this undermines freedom of expression, and democracy, in the country
ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Director of Public Prosecutions to initiate investigations and prosecution of all cases where journalists have been attacked or threatened.
The full report: Silenced and Intimidated: Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Kenya.