Journalists feel pinch of deadly poll outcome

From MARIA MACHARIA
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – KENYAN journalists are caught in the middle of tensions between rival political parties a fortnight after a poll characterised by a rejected outcome and ensuing bloodshed.
At least 24 people, mainly supporters of opposition leader, Raila Odinga, were shot dead after a heavy-handed response by police accused to partisanship to the re-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Two weeks after the disputed poll whose preparation was marred by violence and ethnic tensions, journalists still face harassment, detention, and repression while reporting on the country’s crises.
Local media face accusations of bias from the opposition and government alike.
In the wake of the violations, some journalists have opted to wear protective gear such as bullet-proof vests, which has incurred arrests as only state security forces are legalized to wear the gear.
“Local press has had to walk a fine line,” said rights advocate, Audrey Wabwire.
Wabwire said as an economic and political leader in East Africa, Kenya should end the suppression.
The state, the rights advocate said, should support free press to ensure that citizens critique important processes such as elections and their aftermath.
“Now more than ever, it is critical that the Kenyan government and other state authorities provide protection for press, investigate reports of intimidation, and ensure justice for crimes against journalists.”
The tension following the elections in Kenya have evoked memories of 2007 when some 1 500 people were killed and 600 000 displaced after Raila Odinga rejected the election of Mwai Kibaki as president.
Media were accused of fueling violence after broadcasting images of battles between police and youth in various parts of the country.
CAJ News

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