In a joint letter to Joseph Nkaissery, the Secretary for Internal Affairs and Coordination of National Government, and to other government officials, the nine human rights NGOs ask the Kenyan authorities to let Starkey resume working as a Kenya-based correspondent and to publicly reaffirm their commitment to respect the right to free speech and media freedom.
Based in Nairobi for the past five years, Starkey was detained without explanation at Nairobi airport on his return from a visit to the United Kingdom on 8 December and was put on a flight back to London the next day. The Kenyan authorities later claimed that his work visa application had been refused although he had never been notified of this.
“The way the Kenyan authorities treated Times correspondent Jerome Starkey violated all of the usual procedures and we urge them to allow him to return to Kenya and to resume his work,” RSF said.
“The Kenya government must do whatever is necessary to guarantee the public’s right to information and journalists’ safety. This includes ending the prevailing impunity for crimes of violence against journalists.”
RSF reminds the authorities that the public’s need of information is greater than ever in the run-up to the elections that are taking place this year.
The joint letter also asks the authorities to conduct impartial and transparent investigations into cases of violence against journalists in Kenya including the 2015 murder of John Kituyi, the editor of a regional newspaper, who had been investigating intimidation of witnesses in the International Criminal Court case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.
Kenya is ranked 95th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.