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End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists-Governments Urged


The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163 at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (IDEI). The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

31st October is Halloween Day (remembering the horrors of death), 1st November Catholics commemorate their dead kins, and the same Catholics remember All Saints on 2nd November. The world has declared 2nd of November the Great Day to Remember Journalists who fall victim of armed conflicts, intimidation, threats, and harassment. UNESCO data puts it that between 2006-2015, almost 800 journalists all over the world have been killed with impunity. 9 out of 10 cases have not been prosecuted in law courts. This figure is too big.

Journalism has become a very dangerous profession more than ever before in human history. Press people have become the targets for the modern armed conflicts and violence. Photo journalists and media experts are shot at and their productions destroyed by those who believe that the public should not know what they do. Most of those who are killed are men and very few are women.

This week Al-Jazeera has celebrated 20 years of TV Broadcast with particular focus on almost a forgotten product, the armed conflicts, violence, horrors caused to humanity and hostilities in the theaters of armed conflicts. Since its inception in a state-controlled media environment, Al-Jazeera has focused on the on-going armed conflicts. It has gained the leading position in the world as a bold media house by entirely changing the media landscape and people’s perception about the role of media in conflicts. Al-Jazeera has demonstrated boldness in its coverage of the world violent scenario more than any other international medium.

Such glorious service to humanity does not go without sacrifices. Some journalists have been killed, threatened, jailed, taken as hostages and intimidated by the very governments that ought to protect them. The suspects of perpetrated crimes against media are usually warlords, fighters, criminals, governments, politicians, and terrorists who believe that the public has no right to access the information about their wrongful acts.

We are in a world  full of criminals, violence and those with criminal intent to fight whoever is revealing their illegal and immoral acts in public. Some politicians and well connected business people, mafia like systems, some government security agencies, lawyers, and leaders sometimes collude with criminals to hide the crimes.

More so, many journalists who work in countries with adverse records on corruption, bad governance and opacity are more vulnerable than their colleagues in civilized nations such as Western Europe and North America. Arab countries are leading in the list as the most intolerable nations to the media. Africa is not too far from having non-conducive and media unfriendly environments with increasing perception of media intolerance, especially the investigative journalism.

Journalists are usually victimized for telling the truth yet truth telling is one of the key principles in media ethics. Journalists are under duty to hold the governing and the governed accountable for the benefit of human society and serving the common good. Instead, they are held captives or taken as hostages for carrying out their rightful obligations. They are seen as intruders, noise makers, nuisance by those who believe in status quo or business as usual (BAU).

This blog is rather interested more in inquiring if there is any proper and credible legal framework and policies protecting the rights of journalists against impunity.

Dear readers, this question comes at the appropriate time for researchers in media law and ethics in mass communication. On Friday 4th November, at 10. AM there is an appointment with experts. The title is: “Where is Media in the international law regime? Who protects reporters at the time of peace and time of war? Human rights protects journalists in both time of peace and time of war. International Humanitarian Law protects human rights of journalists during International and Non-International Armed Conflicts and the Geneva law is clear on this. Journalists are referred to under the category of protected persons. The work of journalism is public service. Their role is to inform the world of events and happenings. Such work is protected by UNESCO as well.

Some states have become a no go  zone for journalists. Somalia is known for its ruthlessness to journalists. The state organs hide behind terrorism to expose journalists to life threatening issues. In Mali, a journalist was shot in cold blood and no suspect has ever been arraigned in court. South Sudan is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists among many other media unfriendly governments in the world. Burundi has been threatening reporters as so many have been killed, maimed, jailed or forced to quit. The government see journalists as those who report the government activities to the international community. Such issues as abuse of human rights in some countries make it possible for governments to violate the freedom of expression with impunity.

However, some governments have tried their best to protect and safeguard media rights by promoting human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law. Journalists are protected by the law and anything that may threaten their dignity and life, is handled within the law. Such states have the rule of law other than the rule of men. Extrajudicial and arbitrary killing of a journalist is illegal and a violation of human rights. It is tantamount to denying the public the information. In such systems, the rule of law and human rights are upheld by the state. Most killings are done by national security agencies and usually no investigations are done and there is no justice to this effect. This is impunity in all senses of the word.

It is unacceptable that reporters continue to suffer death or are threatened for the good service they give to humanity. It is equally unacceptable to make stringent laws to deprive journalists of their rights. The international community stands firm to defend human rights of journalists all over the world and any despotic government seeking to violate such measures and rules of human rights shall be dealt with by the international community. Hiding behind terrorism to target and eliminate journalists is not permitted. Threatening journalists for telling the truth or reporting a story which is in the public interest is illegal in democratic and constitutional set-ups.

Professional ethics require that journalists work within a legal framework and standardized code of ethics. Both the informer and the informed must enjoy legal protection wherever they are. Governments that tend to deny journalists their right are denying the freedom of expression rights. They deny the people the right to access information. This is a violation of human rights and such governments shall be held accountable.

Commemorating the end of impunity for crimes against journalists is gearing all of us towards one reality: Journalists are protected persons and if they have a case to answer, then they must do it only within the law. Any institution or any person seeking to threaten journalists i already in the wrong side of the law. If anything, journalists are meant to do the gate-keeping, watchdog and they keep the governments on their toes for what they do.

More shall be discussed on Friday during the venue. You are all invited to share your opinions here. Disappearance of journalists is prohibited by the international law and actually it amounts to crimes against humanity in all senses. Such crimes against humanity can be prosecuted locally or at the ICC if well investigated.




About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!


  1. In May, 2016 Colombia’s government blamed the country’s second-largest rebel group for the disappearance of three journalists in a lawless border region. On July 13, 2015, Spanish freelance journalists Antonio Pampliega, José Manuel López and Ángel Sastre went missing inside Syria around Aleppo during the Syrian civil war. Japanese freelance reporter Yasuda went missing in June 2015, after saying he planned to enter Syria from Turkey, according to a CNN report that cited an unnamed friend of Yasuda’s. These are just some few cases of journalists who have suffered in the line of duty. The onerous task of ensuring that the world id informed is placed on the shoulders of journalists. Unfortunately the same world has not accorded the journalist a safe environment in which they can perform their function to near perfection. In the process of news gathering, packaging and dissemination a journalist is faced by numerous challenges most of which are man made. It is absolutely necessary and in order to celebrate those who have lost their lives ensuring that the masses are always informed, educated and entertained….Hats off to our journalists!!!!

  2. freedom of press has become a topic of discussion in Kenya for a long time. To my opinion most journalists are doing their work professionally only that in Kenya everything has been politicized until journalists are now in danger in their work of educating and informing.

    • Chebet,my question is what freedom do journalists have yet we have had of many cases where journalists are being threatened,harrassed,tortured and arrested because of telling the truth to public which is there role.Why do like the media when they want their good side be reported and not the wrong side?

    • @Joyce am impressed with analysis. But don’t you think journalists also expose themselves to danger when they promise good angling of stories at a fee from people?!

  3. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    Kenya’s 2010 constitution was widely praised for expanding freedoms of expression and the press, specifically by prohibiting the state from interfering with the editorial independence of individual journalists and both state-owned and private media outlets.In chapter four of the Constitution, it clearly states that media has the freedom of giving opinions and the government should not underestimate that.Journalist crime especially in our country, clearly shows that we are against the constitution that we voted for.It is the highest time that the government address this injustice that is rubbing off our journalists.

    • Elizabeth, I think our government has been very cooperative in terms of press freedom than in many countries across Africa. Uganda for example is very humiliating in terms of press freedom and journalists’ rights. We ought to be objective in our reporting and generally report responsibly being the people’s watchdog to avoid rubbing shoulders with the political power.

  4. According to United Nations, rate of impunity against journalists has received extremely high levels. This report came just recently as the media was mourning the mysterious death of the Standard writer Joseph Masha who collapsed and died in his Kilifi home, suspected of poisoning.

    Journalists have constantly been at risk of being threatened, arbitrarily detained or killed for informing the public. Unless this issue is addressed, freedom of expression will be curtailed and society’s ability to make informed choices or question their leaders will be limited.


  5. High Court judge Roselyne Aburuli awarded justice Alnasir Visram Sh26 million following a defamation suit he filed against The Standard, arising from his unsuccessful application for the position of Chief Justice in 2011. The same judge had previously ordered Nation Media Group to pay Lands and Environmental Court Judge Samuel Mukunya Sh20 million as damages in another defamation case.

    This begs the question as to whether judicial officers are so sacred that anyone attempting to question their suitability becomes a subject of a defamation suit. It is the duty of journalists to inform the public what is happening not only in the government but also in other arms of the government. Judiciary is supposed to hold the law in high esteem, as they are custodian of the rule of law. They should not use it to favour themselves.

    This is impunity and Media Council of Kenya should rise above the normal to defend the rights of journalists and media outlets especially where the reporting was clearly informed on public interest.



      I agree,most journalists go out of their way to expose issues of public interest yet they in turn become targeted especially when their reporting touch on the ‘mighty ‘ in society

  6. Most states such as Kenyan are increasingly enforcing laws without due protection for journalists that violate established international human rights norms and principles. E.g. criminal defamation under the penal code has frequently been used by the police to threaten, arrest, detain or suppress journalists and media houses for exposing corruption or criticizing the government.

    Investigations into the 30 April 2015 killing of Eldoret-based journalist, John Kituyi-Owner of Regional Mirror Weekly by gangs on a boda boda have been slow and may serve to illustrate the speed with which crimes against journalists are investigated and prosecuted. Besides, the killers of Francis Nyaruri on 29 January 2009 have never been brought to book.

    These examples illustrate the fact that crimes in Kenya, including those against journalists can sometimes take years to resolve, if at all.


    • @Irungu,i agree that States like Kenya for instance are implementing laws towards media that violate the laws and forget assume to implement the laws that protect the same media houses,the case of journalists who have been reported killed or tourtured while reporting or covering events have not taken into consideration by the courts or governments.To some extent the government is biased in implementing this laws.

  7. Sometimes the suffering of journalists at work is because of ignorance about their rights and freedoms which those in power take advantage of. Covering war and similar violent scenes is already a risk to media personnel. some infringements are also escalated by media managers who greedily expose journalists to injustices and life risks at work. we need a combined effort to prevent crimes on journalists, thanks to the presentation of Anne Kilimo on exposure of international Humanitarian Law that covers the journalists against undue injustices in in line of duty even when national laws seem to fail.

    • Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

      James, I believe journalist know their rights very well.It is so clear in the constitution that they have the freedom of expression and of giving opinions.I think we forget that the role of a journalist is to give the public what they need to know especially things that happen behind the ordinary mwananchi.
      The government should make sure that journalists are protected.It is so encouraging to see that ICRC is at the forefront in protecting our journalists.

      • @Elizabeth, Are you sure that journalists know their rights. KUJ membership is for instance too low compared to journalists on the ground. Many correspondents outside major cities do not even know what to do when injured at work, their employers are typically taking advantage of this!

    • @James, it’s not always an issue of ignorance on the part of journalists on their rights that is the cause of the impunity against them. It is the responsibility of the state that their rights are respected, press freedom and safety is guaranteed. This is what should happen but doesn’t and often it is the state that is the perpetrator of impunity against journalists. Especially in cases where stories covered by journalists expose the failures by government.

      • Lydia you are very right. The report from UNESCO clearly asserts that some forced disappearance of journalists within democratic states are perpetrated by national security agents. Actually, this is even worse than afflictions caused due to lawlessness and disorder during international and non international armed conflicts. Thanks for this important insight.

      • Actually journalists fail to recognize their rights (ignorance) because they often compromise their duties with tips. What would you do after you already compromised your position by accepting tips, out of pocket? This is the first instance of ignorance according to me.

    • One thing that all journalists should know is that no story is worth your life. As much as we try to make sure that the public is informed, there is also a need to protect your own life.

      • Jeff,i hope no journalist wishes to die,be tourtured,or harrassed but as a journalist there is that element of truth,transparency and inform as values and ethics of a good journalist.Can a journalist avoid reporting cases like corruption by authorities or failure by government to the public for instance just to secure life?Then what role of journalism is that?

      • I concur with you Sauke, albeit with a disclaimer. They say a story is not a story if someone doesn’t want it to be published. Sometime the duty to inform the public supersedes the need to protect ones self from injury or ridicule. But one needs to find a balance and here is where your risk tolerance kicks in.


    • James i agree with you, and that is why ICRC is there to protect our journalist .

  8. After attending the informative International Committee of the Red Cross ,i salute the journalist working in conflict areas.Their safety can only be guaranteed by such bodies like ICRC in as far as the latter can be granted audience by the two conflicting sides, in some cases journalist have been killed.What could be done to extend the mandate of ICRC probably give it more power but then again this would compromise its duty to mediate .What do you think Mwalimu?

  9. Irene Kerubo Nyakoiro K50/87708/2016

    With respect to government information any government may distinguish which material are made public or protected from disclosure to protection of national interest. Some governments sunshine laws or freedom of information that define the ambit of national interest.
    In most non democratic states, it’s either there’s no system of democracy or there is a serious deficiency in the Democratic process. Freedom of the press is an extremely problematic issue/concept. since in the modern age, strict control of access to information is critical to the existence most non democratic states and their associated control systems and security apparatus. To this end this states societies employ state run organizations to promote the propaganda critical to maintaining an existing political power and suppress (often very brutally, through the use of the police and military agencies). Any significant attempts by the media or journalists to challenge the approved ” government line” on contentious issues. Journalists operating on the fringes of what is deemed acceptable will often find themselves the subject considerable intimidation by agents of the states. This can range from simple threats to their professional careers to death threats, kidnapping torture and assassinations.

  10. Impunity against journalists is an issue that affects all countries worldwide and there fore needs a concerted effort from all of us to ensure safety for media personnel is guaranteed. Journalists not only face hostility from government but also from civilians. Recently in September, we had kenyan journalists protesting against harassment and mysterious killing of their colleagues. Their petition to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) read “Various agencies and actors of the national and county governments and in some cases citizens have taken it upon themselves to normalise, justify and rationalise harassment, stalking, physical abuse, online bashing, physical assaults and in some cases attempted assassinations of journalists on the basis of unfavourable reporting.”
    This clearly goes to show that there is much more that needs to be done to create an enabling environment for journalists to work independently. The UN General Assembly by proclaiming 2nd November as the ‘International Day to End impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ is therefore a step in the right direction.

  11. ICRC is doing a commendable job by encouraging governments to implement IHL. Its role to protect lives and dignity of the victims of war and internal conflict is noble and requires commitment by states to uphold principles of humanitarian law. ICRC in a resolution adopted by the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in November 2007 stressed on the obligation for states to adopt all legislative, regulatory and practical measure to incorporate IHL into domestic law and practice. That States need to create a domestic legal framework for the investigation and prosecution of war crimes and for the extradition of suspects.
    In compliance to this, States need to show commitment to end impunity and uphold the law especially in Africa where the legal systems are facing challenges of political interference and corruption.

  12. The footsteps that have marked ascend of Media in Kenya, has been dotted with setbacks. A memorable example of the specks on the foot print of media is the single party rule that characterized politics in Kenya for three decades. This period saw journalists manhandled by the state thus discouraging free press. Whoever was not for the government was an enemy of the republic and thus attracted punishment. It’s during this period that print media come under criticism. Journalists were held responsible for publications that the government considered as unfriendly. This move saw a number of journalists detained while others, the like renowned writer Ngungi Wa Thiong’o sought asylum in America; only to return in 2003 after NARC-the ruling party of the day came to power and requested for their return.

    The advent of the multiparty rule in 1992 gave breath of fresh air to press freedom. Independent media houses like the Kenya television network (KTN) was a beneficiary of this move. To date these media house has maintained its subjective view of government when it comes to investigative journalism and unearthing corruption and scandals in government.

    Print media on the other hand has had its lion share of success in the democratic Kenya. Hundreds of publications spring up every other day, with some which hardly meet required professional standards- done hurriedly with more of gossip, lies and rumor.

    The opening up of a democratic media space however has seen casualties. For starters, media has been blamed for misuse of press freedom- deviating from certain fundamental that guide their practice. It’s such ‘deviation from the norm’, which has made the government to gag media through a string of legislation over the years. A good example is the amendment of the Books and Newspaper Act of 1905 (now Books and Newspapers Act 2002), which hangs Ksh 1million bond on any individual wishing to start a newspaper or magazine as a guarantee against libel. It further requires that the publisher submit a copy of every new publication to the registrar of companies/ societies. This law has been found to restrict freedom of expression of journalist but at the same time others argue that it is meant to protect the public.

    Other laws that limit freedom of press are the Official secrets Act 1968 that criminalizes disclosure of information by public officials, National Security Act of 1970 that makes it illegal to publish any official information that is classified as secret, the preservation of public security Act which bans live broadcast by the media to allow for assessment before airing thus removing information that could otherwise be damaging to the public and finally the Media Act 2007 which was revised to media bill 2010 that critic say limits journalist creativity. Before it was later passed in 2015 as the Media Act, 2013.

    Media Act, 2013 defines journalists’ conduct and ethical considerations that should be observed in the cause of the practice, in addition it places a cash penalty on journalists and media houses found guilty of defamation.

    The Media Act and the Constitution are the two pieces of legislation that offer journalists protection in the course of dispensing their duty in a few articles and clauses. But although it’s clear that journalists need protection to conduct their business. And should not be threatened or killed. There are scholars who feel journalists are in bed with sources and what is eating them, is a recipe of their own making. For instance, when journalist deviate from truth and instead use fabricated stories, lies and deception to win audience which ends up undermining viewers’ freedom (Day, 2006).

    Bivin therefore feels that ‘the burden of proof of using deceptive means to collect news stories lies solely on the journalist; while scholars like media professor, Kasoma blame the deviation of media from ethical conduct and practice to democratic media space which he claims is fueled by greed. He observes that, greed has made journalists bully and rude to the extent that they can summon whoever they want and abuse them in the name of fighting corruption and standing for the truth.

    Tomaselli (2003) defends media saying “the democratic dialectic works best when journalists critique politicians, presidents, state agencies and the corporate sector, for corruption, incompetence, non-delivery, misbehavior and so on. Therefore, there is no reason why such reporting should be seen as inherently disrespectful.” But although he is right in his argument, there are instances where media has used deception to serve their purpose and not public interest. A good example is docudramas- which are supposed to be in-depth with critical analysis of issues based on reality. However, the docudramas produced as news features in television are done shoddily to serve public cravings and stay ahead of competition and occurrences.
    Though this is not to mean that I do not advocate for justice or legal frameworks that protect journalists. Journalists need to be protected under the law for the crucial role they play in democracy. But boundaries for such protection do exists. Just like IHL legislation cannot prevent arrest of journalist suspected of a war crime.

    It’s worrisome, that a lot of media houses and journalist have in the process of keeping up with their work deviated from truth and served the public with half-truths. Day 2006 calls on journalists to verify information and base them on solid evidence and necessitates them that doubts and disputes to be revealed to the audience. According to him, inaccurate stories only serve to undermine credibility of media as an entity. A favorable approach he recommends to journalists is the fair use of quotes in an article without altercations. Day also advocates for journalists to revise quotes, in cases where the use of grammar is wanting. But while this is done with good intentions, some media scholars disagree him. To them, the use of paraphrasing or use of parenthesis can suffice.
    Attribution of sources for statements that are not common knowledge is another way journalists are advised to employ, in pursuant of truth telling. This absolves them from statements that can later fuel criticism and encourages accuracy and truth by pointing readers to the source, therein protecting them from litigation. Journalists ought to also protect themselves for legal frameworks that are put in place to absolve them from any blame.

  13. Irene Kerubo Nyakoiro K50/87708/2016

    According to ARTICLE 19, attack on journalist increased substantially in numbers in 2015 recording 65 individual attacks on journalists and social media users. Only 42 incidences were officially reported or recorded from January to September 2015. Of the 42 violations recorded, only three investigations were made with the perpetrators subsequently being taken to court. This suggests a high rate of impunity regarding attacks on journalists.
    Lack of accountability for reported threats and attacks on journalist has a damaging effect on freedom of expression, and has undermined the productivity of media workers, in some cases forcing them to completely stop from pursuing sensitive stories that otherwise might have fostered accountability in an environment of impunity.


    NAHASHON KIOKO MUTUNGA k50/88698/2016.
    Journalists in Kenya are still faced with challenges especially when reporting on sensitive matters affecting the state. It is therefore prudent to call for strong bodies e.g the Kenya Union of Journalists, the Media council and the Editors Guild to come up with stringent measures to protect journalists. The media owners association in the other hand is a toothless dog because some of the media owners are big players in the government so very little is expected from them.

  15. Journalists have had difficult times in their line of duty,they have been harassed,beaten,killed and arrested for no good reason.For instance in May,15 2015 when Gusii Institute of Science and Technology and Kisii university students were rioting over the death of Gusii institute students and staff in an accident.Police who were controlling the situation attacked Nation Kisii Bureau photogrpher, Mr.Benson Momanyi and Standard groups Denis Ochieng. Mr. Momanyi suffered injuries on his harm while his colleague Ochieng’s teeth were knocked out.I suspect there is something this police wanted to hide from the public

  16. Journalists have been intimidated like a case where Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery ordered police to arrest journalist John Ngirachu after reporting on Public Accounts Committee (PAC) proceedings and questioning on how the ministry spend 3.8 million.The Cabinet Secretary was bitter and wanted to know why Paliament had to give such confidential information to the media hence exposing the governments security capacity and capabilities. Ngirachu recorded a a statement with the police and he said that the journalist was to be released after revealing who gave him that information from parliament.This is infringing media freedom and even denying the public a right to get information from the government.

    • Hesbon the question is was the journalist being objective? whose interest was he serving? did he have all the statistics to show how the money was spend?

      • Clearly, Ngirachu was serving the public interest by questioning how the money was spent. The public has the right to know how each and every penny of tax payers money is utilized. Authoritarian regimes (which I don’t want to believe Kenya is one) usually feign security when they are questioned on how they spend their budgetary allocations. Nkaissery’s orders were plain intimidation intending to scare anyone else from even thinking to investigate corruption in the security ministry.

  17. In the year 2015, 48 journalists were killed and 147 were imprisoned based on the report from Reporters without Borders. Over the past decade, over 700 journalists have been killed for bringing news and information to the public which is an average one death every week. They are silenced through violence during inquiring. This intimidates the whole society. This impunity only encourages increase in the killings. There is a wider breakdown in the system. I am glad the ICRC is doing a commendable job in aiding the journalists in war zones. They reduce the number of deaths among st the journalists who risk their lives in war zones to ensure they bring he story to us.

  18. In the year 2015, 48 journalists were killed and 147 were imprisoned based on the report from Reporters without Borders. Over the past decade, over 700 journalists have been killed for bringing news and information to the public which is an average one death every week. They are silenced through violence during inquiring. This intimidates the whole society. This impunity only encourages increase in the killings. There is a wider breakdown in the system. I am glad the ICRC is doing a commendable job in aiding the journalists in war zones. They reduce the number of deaths among st the journalists who risk their lives in war zones to ensure they bring us the story.

  19. Esther muthoni k50/88712/2016

    The IHL classifies journalists as civilians and under this law they are required to act or operate within the precincts of a civilian unless otherwise stated. To this extent therefore as a journalist one has to ensure that he or she operates within the precincts of the law. Take for example the case where journalists were joining KDF in Somalia to report on the progress of the KDF soldiers in their assault against the Al shabaab. The journalists had to operate within the confines of the army so as not to compromise their security. A pertinent question arises as to whether they reported freely on the outcome of the war or they relied on the army to gain access. May be not since KDF could have been using the media to depict their might and show of force while in real sense there were other underlying stories that needed more prominence.

  20. Joan Bett/k/50/87843/2016

    Journalists usually find themselves in the middle of crime scenes , risking themselves to inform the nation on whats happening. Some go for hours with out food, water and at times even help the rescue teams but who usually recognize or award them? we have had journalists who have done so well in reporting criminal cases proceedings from courts and from crime and terrorists scenes like in waste gate, the US embassy, etc, but we cannot give a number to those who have been awarded….

  21. The fastest and surest way of gaining more enemies is speaking the truth. People hate the truth especially if it is not in their favor and this is why journalist face a lot of resistance whenever they go about their business of reporting the facts and truths that are of interest to the public. A good example would be the on going debate about the NYS scandal, which has already taken a political dimension. Those aligned to any of the political factions tend to have their own biases in regards to how the NMG reported on the issue. In conflict as well, people tend to have certain inclinations and if the media appears to show them as the villains or losers then they are definitely bound to react by eliminating anything or anyone who would expose their weaknesses. Despite having laws that protect and govern how journalists ought to operate, there have been many cases of these same laws being compromised by the same people who legislate them. A look at what is happening around the world would be a clear indicator that journalists only operate at the mercy of those in powerful positions and not the protection stipulated under the constitutional laws. They are the war lords, the politicians who pass the laws only to bend them in their favor, the armed forces who rely only the politicians to take care of their welfare etc. since a journalist is only armed with pen and paper, the war for freedom of expression and all other International Human rights laws will be thwarted and fought back by those wielding guns and other superior weaponry but as journalists we can only pray and hope for the best as we carry out our duties because not all appreciate the work that we do.

    • Jeff, the truth is always bitter as you say and I agree. Because of this, reporters often find themselves in ethical dilemmas when approached by news sources to alter, mutilate or defame some truth. Those who forego their professional ethos have themselves to blame.


    The international humanitarian law protects journalists as civilians. I believe that, that is not enough. Journalism is more than just being a civilian. Journalists risk their lives to report what an ordinary civilian would not. I argue that the IHL should be amended to have a provision for journalists special protection especially when they cover conflicts.


    As the debate for police brutality against journalists continue, We have a case in which teargas canisters were hulled at journalists covering demonstrations in yesterday’s Standard newspaper page 2 “Police Attack Scribes During Demo”. Despite assurances for protection by police and other Government officials,journalists have continued to face police harassment and intimidation. The manner in which the pressmen were teargassed could as well be a manifestation of the impunity the government operates with.

  24. ICRC together with other bodies such as international boarders etc are doing a commendable job just to ensure that our journalist including the freelance journalist are safe especially while covering conflict or violence based stories. but you find that our journalist are still suffering especially while covering very sensitive stories ,this can be from the government itself or from the civilians.hence we need to really have a body that will protect a journalist to make them work independently and easier.

  25. Journalists have always been perpetrated in non-conflict situations by organized crimes groups,militia,security personnel and even local police.They have been made among the most vulnerable.This happens when they bring information to public.They have been harassed,abducted,murdered,intimidated and arrested illegally.This clearly shows how freedom of press has been affected.Therefore, UNESCO has taken part in safeguarding journalists and combating impunity

  26. Journalists will always operate within an environment of vested interests. Rainey (2014) notes that people can push as far as possible to protect their interests, and this means journalists’ lives will sometimes be at risk. As such, despite people’s right to know the truth, journalists should balance between this obligation and their safety, especially in developing countries. The law and duty should also be matched with reason.

  27. This is a sad case indeed. That journalists try to diligently fulfill their duties in the right way, in accordance with the code of ethics but still get unjustly persecuted. This problem stems out from the fact that we live in a society that is governed by self interest. Everyone wants what is good for themselves even if it means hurting other people along the way. According to Sigmund Freud all human beings are egoistic and we are all pursuing what is in our own interest. Therefore when these interests collide with other people`s interests people get hurt.Same thing happens with the people in power. They pursue what they deeply desire and in doing so they hurt the citizens. When the journalists try to uncover such cases for the good of the nation, they get persecuted which is not right.

  28. Journalists have suffered the brunt of keeping citizens informed on vices in the government such corruption, disappearance of citizens and murders among other issues. However most of them have had to pay the ultimate price. We have journalists who are constantly on the run as their lives is as stake, some are intimidated day and night by the government.

  29. Every act of violence against journalists that goes uninvestigated and unpunished is an open invitation for further violence and attacks. Impunity in crimes against journalists like this sends a message to perpetrators that they can control the media by using force against its members causing some sort of intimidation. A free press can cannot thrive in an environment in which journalists are under severe and constant attack: this undermines freedom of expression, and democracy in the country.

    • Free press is disallowed by states in instances where the political class wants to have its way, where corruption thrives, impunity is the order of the day. Which government would allow free press to air such?

  30. Adline Murunga k50/88163/2016

    Pressuring journalists to shape news coverage in the name of patriotism and unity is not new, least of all in Africa. Kenya is no exception and we have seen cases where where publications have been banned, media houses warned against incitement and even ban of live broadcasts. Some examples are when in 2008 just after the contested Presidential elections, the then minister for internal security – John Michuki ordered a five day ban of live broadcasts of events. Then, there was a lot of tension and rise in post election violence. To date the media is blamed for escalating the violence but that is a story for another day.

  31. Adline Murunga k50/88163/2016

    Jane Wangechi, a journalist, was allegedly physically assaulted and injured on 22nd August 2016, by Monica Njambi Kirunyu, a nominated Member of the County Assembly of Lamu County from Baharini Ward. The nominated MCA is said to have assaulted the journalist accusing her of giving the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) a video evidence to aide in a case where the MCA is facing hate speech charges before the Commission. Jane has since recorded a statement at Mpeketoni police station. (OB No. 14/22/8/16) and filled in a P3 form.
    On 23rd August 2016, Standard Group journalist Lydiah Nyawira and Nation Media Group’s Grace Gitau were attacked and assaulted by MCAs while covering the Nyeri County Assembly session.
    Growing cases of harassment, intimidation and assault of journalists by politicians and their supporters is a worrying trend especially now as we proceed to the general elections in 2017. In July 2016, two journalists, Moses Masinde(K24) in Port Victoria, Busia County and Shaban Makokha in Kakamega County were attacked by a gang of youth during political rallies.
    Such incidents are inimical to Article 34 of the constitution of Kenya which guarantees the freedom of the media and democracy in general.
    There is a hotline whereby Journalists in Kenya do report any cases of harassment and intimidation this is 0702 -222- 111 and is an effort to track such cases.

  32. Media houses should recognize their responsibilities to support and ensure the safety of all their journalists whether they are staff members, correspondents or freelancers on commissioned assignments for instance, the north eastern counties of Kenya and the border of Somalia present enormous challenge due to the history of violent conflicts therefore any journalistic adventure into such areas like Baragoi for example would necessarily require careful planning and preparation as mitigative measures in protecting the lives of journalists on assignments.

    • I concur, journalists on assignment need protection not only as journalists but like every other citizen because they are not super human beings. Violence can be indiscriminate at times.

  33. Journalists are frequently attacked mainly for covering stories on gross human rights violations, wanton corruption, bad governance, and poor leadership.

    Majority of these attacks are neither investigated nor punished, even when the culprits are well known thus creating vicious cyclic culture of impunity in which justice to victims is denied. Restrictive and archaic laws also contribute to a culture of violence and impunity.

    Political will in ending impunity and violence against journalists is required to ensure that journalists carry out their work in a safe environment. Addressing political will requires much more than reforming legislations on freedom of expression.


  34. Kenya recorded 65 cases of journalists who were attacked from between January and September 2015. On average, seven journalists are attacked every month according to incidents reported under Article 19. Of the incidents reported, only three have been investigated and the perpetrators taken to court; this is 7% rate.

    The determined assault on the media is undermining press freedom, and the safety and security of journalists. Failure to bring those responsible for attacks on journalists to account sends the signal that the media can be silenced through violence, and will ultimately lead to many journalists resorting to self-censorship, hampering the realization of the right to free expression.


    • Great data breakdown Irungu! Only issues I have is that its is not contrasted against how regular cases of impunity against citizens are prosecuted. Is the overall rate higher or lower?


  35. I concur that impunity against journalists must come to an end. Even as l give that opening line, l also hold that journalists must be guided by the social responsibility theory.
    In Kenya we have commendable strides in enhancing freedom of the media and freedom of information. Before the advent of multi-partism in 1992, it was common for security officers to through journalists in jail on tramped up charges. Many will remember the works of David Malawi, Bedan Mbugua who suffered state repression during the single part era.
    Such impunity has largely reduced with the adoption of the new constitution in August 2010 though some overzealous state operative in areas away from the capital city would still enjoy blocking the press. Most recently a journalist in Eldored was murders as he walked home from work. No one has been arrested though many speculated that his death could have been related to the then cases before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
    Governments are obligated to protect journalists and ensure they have unfettered latitude to do their work of providing information to the people. Such protection must be enjoyed both in times of peace and in times of conflict.

  36. Even as we strive to ensure journalist enjoy unbridled protection in the course of their work, it is instructive that the same journalists have been found to be among the worst violators of rights of other citizens. In the course of their work, some journalists have violated the privacy of citizens by publishing libellous articles, published graphic close-up pictures of victims of violence and accidents all in the name of making money and appealing to editors. Social responsibility needs to be exercised by journalists in the course of their work. The case of Rwanda, where a radio station allegedly perpetrated violence against a group of people comes to mind.
    Also in areas of armed conflict states have unwittingly used journalists as gatherers of evidence that would be used in prosecuting crimes against humanity. Today it has been reported that journalist gathered evidence of abuse by Iraqi forces against civilians I their quest to uproot IS IS from the City of Mosul. It is an issue that is gaining international interest.

    • So true Obonyo. Journalists do not adhere to the code of ethics that is meant to give them guidelines on how to carry on with their functions. Most of the times they are caught on the wrong side of law where they are sued for intrusion of privacy, contempt as well as defamation cases.

  37. Wendy Nashipae Kantai

    Well, it is sad that journalist could be working under a cloud of fear constantly threatening their lives. However this matter is probably stirred by violating media ethics in the past and journalists have earned a bad reputation. I am a journalist and speaking from experience people are afraid to be misquoted or for a matter to be blown out of proportion. why? Because news nowadays sells because of its drama, bad news sells and I think journalist desparately look for this drama for their own selfish purposes. They stage manage the scenes. We are guilty of wanting to make a name for ourselves in the media industry. We don’t focus on the story but on the drama that it can create,it is so greedy. Unfortunately this has bomeranged and we suffer the consequences. We are seen as a threat. How to salvage this?… I don’t know.

  38. Nothing positive comes out of a hostile environment. Impunity must stop pronto.

  39. The laws are in place but do they really protect journalists? The answer is no. Journalists are clobbered by policemen in this country. When such a case is followed, frustrations from the disciplined forces can make one abandon the case.

    • So true Ann Kaee. The laws that have been put in place but the journalists still suffer. The elites have used corruption to ensure no case sees the light of day. The laws have been documented but are not in practice.

  40. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    @wendy I concur with you. Journalists tend to cover the bad news so as to earn a reputation, However, it is the journalist responsibility to give the public what they need to know and hear.The government should stand out and protect the rights of the journalists and make sure that the impunity they face is eradicated.

    • Liz you are very correct. News, by its own nature is conflictual. News readers prefer what agitates their mind rather than scientific reports. It is more psychological…news entertains while non fiction engages the mind. There is nothing wrong when a journalist focuses on conflicts – “When a dog bites a man” there is no news, “When a man bites the dog”, then there is news. News means something new, or novelty or unknown…it rouses the curiosity very fast. Even in speech, it would not attract attention when one says what people already know…this was a point for Trump…of course, he said what everybody else knows, but the way he said it, was what made him win the hearts and minds of the Americans. Hilary was telling people what they already know and they had no business with status quo. Thanks for this great share.

  41. Elizabeth Njuguna k50/87543/2016

    l agree with you , Ann.The law is set, but not followed.I believe that the constitution has put it clear that journalists have the right to give their opinions.

  42. K50/87567/2016

    Hostility and violence against journalists has become rampant across the world with even latest instances in Kenya.Even though the Media fraternity has been fighting against this impunity the hostile environment is likely not to end anytime soon.
    This is because in most of reported cases ,this impunity is perpetrated by senior government officials and the police. The latest incident is when a Nation Media Group business journalist was allegedly threatened not to write a story on the Sh 5bn health ministry scandal.
    Although though the permanent secretary apologized later, his actions were highly criticized.
    If journalists were to get a conducive environment to operate, the government should strengthen the laws guarding the rights of a journalist and allow them to do their work.

    • As long as the government continues to have interest in stories unearthed by media, cases of violence against journalists will continue. It’s unfortunate though that media professionals can be manhandled because either a story has angered an official or they consider it yo be in bad taste.

  43. In conflict zones and countries where press freedom is not sufficiently valued, journalists become targets of rebel groups, militias, drug traffickers, extremists or corrupt politicians. While international journalists are often heavily equipped and protected, local journalists usually do not have the means to protect themselves sufficiently. One of the objectives of every safety strategy should be the provision of safety training for local journalists and the development of international norms for safety training and equipment.



    This brings up the question of how ethical is the reporting of the journalists in Kenya? How far can they go to ensure that they stay relevant in this field? These are some of the questions that arise in my mind. could it be that this is the main reason as to government’s move in introducing the ‘Draconian’ Media bill? the answers may cut across. The so called ‘Draconian’ Media bill gazzetted in 2013 may have been introduced to put checks and balances to ensure that journalists pay attention to ethical considerations when reporting. This may be translated to be infringing on Article 34 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

  45. The state is the biggest enemy of the press…I know of some journalists who have written stories about the Government then state house operatives look for them and threaten them. In the end they stop reporting the truth for fear..We have laws protecting them but who will risk being shot,because our laws are not taken seriously by the state. Remember the draconian laws, remember when the speaker of parliament at one time decided to block journalists from accessing parliament to cover proceedings? The same people who are supposed to uphold the rule of law are the same people breaking the laws, can we then say that we have laws such as article 33, 34,35 freedom of expression, freedom of the media and access to information?

  46. I remember at one time, I was with Senior Counsel Phiroze Nowerjee at the Supreme Court , it was during the Draconians law, he was the lawyer for the media and he told me that, We fought very hard to pass the new Constitution and we fought hard to have freedom of speech in Kenya, so we have done our part, now its you people to defend these freedom of expression and media. You can see clearly now that there are so many state apparatus against these freedoms.

  47. Declaration of principles on freedom of expression in Africa, states that attacks such as murder,kidnapping,intimidation of threats to media practitioners and others exercising their right to freedom of expression,undermines independent journalism,freedom of expression and the free flow of information to the public.

    • The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, meeting at its 32nd Ordinary Session, in Banjul, The Gambia, from 17th to 23rd October 2002. Reaffirming the fundamental importance of freedom of expression and information as an individual human right, as a cornerstone of democracy and as a means of ensuring respect for all human rights and freedoms. Desiring to promote the free flow of information and ideas and greater respect for freedom of expression

  48. the Windhoek Declaration is a statement of press freedom principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.The declaration was produced at UNESCO, seminar,”promoting and independent and Pluralistic African Press” Windhoek,Namibia, from April 29 to May 3,1991,it was endorsed later by the UNESCO General Conference. the declaration was the outcome of long and frank look at problems of African Print media.The document enumerates instances of intimidation,imprisonment and censorship across Africa.With a belief in connection between a fully independent press and successful participatory democracy,the document calls for free,independent and pluralistic media thought the world.This shows how journalist are treated worldwide.

  49. The right to work without threat of violence is a basic human right.Everyone from journalist, bloggers,people with opinions say have a aright to to his or her opinions.Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds the right to freely seek,receive and send out information,ideas and opinions through media.There must be free press,and the safety and security of journalists is the hallmark of free press

    • I concur with you Loreen. The right to work with no violence is a basic human right. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

  50. Rights of journalist should be respected,right to life,(article 6)right to effective remedy(article 3),prohibition of torture or cruel,inhuman(article 7),right to liberty and security of person(9) and freedom of expression(article 19). This is given by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

  51. In Media Institute of Southern Africa 17 November ,The High Court of Tanzania resolved a case involving Former Minister for Good Governance, Wilson Masilingi, the local Swahiili newspaper “RAI”, and its columnist, Prince Bagenda. The ruling followed a defamation case that was filed by Masilingi claiming that the writer and the newspaper published a defamatory statement in its edition of 2 August 2005.

    The newspaper published a lead story on page one that translates to: “Minister solicits money from his voters to build a flat”.

    The court has ordered the newspaper and Bagenda to pay Masilingi the sum of 15 million Tanzanian shillings (approx. US$9,000) as damages for publishing malicious and defamatory statements about him.

    The court instructed “RAI” to pay 10 million Tanzanian shillings, and Bagenda is supposed to pay 5 million Tanzanian shillings. In addition, the newspaper is required to publish an apology on its first and second pages, in words that Masilingi will be comfortable with before they are published.

    It was ordered by the court that the damages be paid within 14 days after the ruling, in addition to publishing the apology.

  52. FAITH LUVAI K50/86909/2016

    Journalists are simply messengers and nothing more or less. Without them where would the world be anyway? The media fraternity as a whole is the mirror of the society. Its the reflection of what goes around in the world. The question is why shoot the messenger and evade the sender? It does not kill the messenger as other messengers would still be used.
    Globally ,most journalists are bribed to give airtime to stories that the favors politicians and prominent people hence the opponents of this politicians and prominent people end up causing damage on the journalist as he was only a victim of circumstances.
    The freedom of press media does not even protect them here as this was a personal agreement. The sender is the culprit and not the journalist.

    • Journalists are more than messengers. The influence of their work in shaping the peoples perception is of great value to the authorities. As long as reportage carries with it the power to shift perceptions and votes, and as long as those in power have something to hide(which has and shall continue to be the case) , serious objective journalism will always be curtailed.

  53. Journalists are more than messengers. The influence of their work in shaping the peoples perception is of great value to the authorities. As long as reportage carries with it the power to shift perceptions and votes, and as long as those in power have something to hide(which has and shall continue to be the case) , serious objective journalism will always be curtailed.

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