Kenya journalists bashed in airport standoff

from MARIA MACHARIA
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – MEDIA rights groups have called on the country to investigate the assault of journalists at the country’s main airport while covering an opposition politician’s return to the country.

At least two journalists were injured at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi this week.

They were among hordes of reporters covering the standoff between opposition politician Miguna Miguna and immigration officials who disputed his right to enter the country.

Stephen Letoo, a political reporter, was beaten, pushed, and kicked by an unknown number of officers. He momentarily lost consciousness and suffered injuries to his abdomen and limbs.

Robert Gichira, a cameraman, also reported he was assaulted and had to seek treatment.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) dissuaded authorities from resolving their political disputes by harrassing journalists.

The country is beset by tensions following a disputed poll outcome.

“Kenyan authorities must urgently investigate this attack and put an end to any assaults on the press by security personnel, including police forces,” said CPJ Africa Coordinator, Angela Quintal.
Authorities absolved police from wrongdoing.

Mwenda Njoka, Ministry of Interior spokesperson, said the journalists had been in a “restricted area” of the airport.

Dennis Itumbi, a communications officer in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office, commended police arguing journalists had defied orders and were filming in “unauthorized areas.”

CPJ has documented harassment of and attacks on journalists by security personnel and politicians during divisive elections in 2017.

In February, authorities closed four television channels for covering a mock inauguration by the opposition.
– CAJ News

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