Stakeholders call for end of impunity against Journalists

Kenyan journalists on Wednesday joined the world to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

Every year November 2 is set aside to check the pulse of the fourth estate and allow media stakeholders to reflect on the prevention, protection, and prosecution of crimes against journalists.

The Cabinet Secretary of  Information, Communications, and Telecommunication, Eliud Owalo, was the chief guest at this year’s event organised by the Kenya Editors’ Guild and the Kenya Media Sector Working Group.

This year, the celebrations come at the back of a general election dominated by attacks on journalists and the killing of Pakistani Investigative journalist Arshad Sharif in Kajiado last month.

Eric Odour, Secretary General Kenya Union of Journalists raised alarm over the increasing economic crimes against journalists in the country. According to Odour, some journalists are being exposed to slavery, no contracts, and little or no pay.

“It is sad that till today, some journalists in newsrooms have not been paid for two months; the journalists have mental health issues, little to no pay, and are sexually harassed. We must protect journalists in our newsrooms,” he said.

While the sector has struggled since 2016, the Covid19 pandemic further dented the already perforated revenue basket further exacerbating the cash crunch in the sector. The industry continues to improve gradually, but the economic crunch has seen the industry suffer and more so journalists.

According to the President of Kenya Editors Guild, Churchill Otieno, the sector’s financial mandate has been handed to commercial entities. He called on the sector to be independent and to be seen as such.

“Where we have a reduction in supply, the public suffers. We need to create an ecosystem where do-gooders have a sustainable way to keep doing their work,” he said.

CS Owalo promised to ensure and protect media freedoms while calling on journalists to work together. He said, “Journalists must also work together. It is awkward that on a day as important as today different entities are hosting events in different areas pointing to division. I advise that you put your house in order and get your act together.”

The group called upon the government to fully investigate the death of Arshad Sharif and make the findings public.  “The manifestation of impunity in Kenya must be noted. Every single gathering in the globe for this day will discuss the shooting of Arshad Sharif,” said Churchill.

According to Owalo, the matter is being handled by the Ministry of Interior.

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