Harassed Kenya journalists demand bullet-proof gear

From MARIA MACHARIA
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – MEDIA rights groups are advocating for journalists wear protective gear in the wake of violations after disputed general elections.
Prior to the call, a television journalist, Duncan Khaemba, has been arrested for allegedly possessing a helmet and body armor while reporting on violent post-election protests in Nairobi’s Kibera slum.
Police said he was not licensed.
Matina Stevis, a correspondent for an international media outlet, was saved from serious injury be her helmet after a police officer allegedly hit her on the head with a wooden stick at another protest.
Kenya’s Firearms Act classifies bulletproof vests as firearms and stipulates that no one except the armed forces may acquire or possess them without a license.
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said journalists in the East African country needed protective gear following a rise in incidents of alleged harassment against journalists covering the aftermath of the August 8 election.
“Authorities should remove the bureaucratic hoops that make it difficult for journalists to keep themselves safe while working in hostile conditions,” CPJ emergencies director, Maria Salazar-Ferro, said.
Some ten journalists have reportedly been assaulted or harassed by police officers and party supporters in the course of covering post-election protests.
CPJ Africa coordinator, Angela Quintal, said authorities should ensure these cases are credibly investigated and make clear journalists cannot be harassed with impunity.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s rejection of the outcome favouring incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta as president sparked post-election demonstrations.
More than 20 people have also been killed after police opened fire on opposition supporters.
Similar violence in 2007 claimed the lives of 1 400 civilians and displaced 600 000 others.
CAJ News

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