Kerry urged to raise safety of journalists during Kenya visit

Reporters Without Borders calls on US Secretary of State John Kerry to raise the issue of journalists’ safety during his current visit to Kenya, which comes just days after a newspaper editor’s brutal murder and amid an alarming deterioration in freedom of information that has been under way for several months, local observers say. Kerry, whose three-day visit began yesterday, is due to discuss security issues, including combatting the Al-Shabaab militants, during his meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta, but human rights are also on the agenda of their talks. “We urge the US secretary of state to raise the issues of the safety of journalists and freedom of information, which must not be subordinated to security concerns,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said. “Journalists in Kenya have been particularly shocked by fellow journalist John Kituyi’s murder last week. We call on the Kenyan authorities to send a strong message by stating very clearly that attacks, threats and crimes of violence against journalists will not go unpunished and those responsible will be brought to justice.” Kituyi was beaten by unidentified assailants as he was returning to his home in a suburb of the western city of Eldoret on the evening of 30 April and died of his injuries in a hospital later that night. His attackers took his mobile phone but left his wallet, which suggests that the motive was not robbery and that he was deliberately targeted. Relatives said he had received recent threats in connection with stories published in his regional weekly, The Mirror. One of his latest stories described how authorities had interfered with witnesses due to testify at Deputy President William Ruto’s trial before the International Criminal Court in connection with post-election violence in 2007. Kituyi was an experienced reporter who had been The Standard newspaper’s correspondent for a long time before founding The Mirror, which often carried investigative reporting. According to the Kenya Correspondents Association, which Kituyi helped to found, a dangerous decline in media freedom in recent years has been accompanied by an increase in threats and attacks against journalists that have gone unpunished. Kenya is ranked 100th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Photo: John Kituyi,
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Updated on 20.01.2016