Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned Monday’s attack on two KTN journalists and their driver at St Steven’s Girls High School in Machakos County.
In a statement released on Wednesday, RSF said there is need to make students aware of the rights of journalists.
The journalists had gone to the school to investigate reports of a missing student when they were attacked after the students were allegedly incited by the principal.
RSF said the attack “reminds the Kenyan authorities of the need to make the younger generation aware of journalists’ rights”.
VICTIMS OF ATTACKS
At the same time, RSF noted that Kenyan journalists are often the victims of physical attacks in the course of their work.
“This serious case of violence against journalists is all the more worrying for having taken place at a school,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.
“Teachers should make the younger generation aware of the news media’s importance for the democratic debate, not teach them to hate journalists. We call on the Kenyan authorities to begin exemplary proceedings in this case in order to send a clear message to all those who are inclined to attack media personnel,” he added.
On Tuesday, St Steven’s Principal John Musyoki Kyalo was charged with assaulting the two journalists and the driver and also with malicious damage to property.
He was released on a Sh1 million bond after denying the charges with the case set to be mentioned on June 18.
Later on Tuesday, Assistant Director of Quality Assurance Alice Gichana announced the closure of the school and students sent on an early mid-term break as probe into the Monday attack on continues.
Kenya is ranked at position 100 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
RSF notes that there has been a steady decline in media freedom in the country.
“Kenya has seen a slow erosion of media freedom in recent years. The political situation and security concerns have been used since 2016 as grounds for restricting the freedom to inform,” RSF notes in its report.
On January 30, 2018, the Communications Authority of Kenya switched off NTV, KTN News, Citizen TV and Inooro TV to prevent a live broadcast of the “swearing-in” of ODM leader Raila Odinga as the “people’s president” at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.
The television stations remained off air for at least seven days and resumed broadcasting following a court order,
It took the government three days to comply with the order but only NTV and KTN News resumed broadcasting immediately, with Citizen TV and Inooro TV remaining off air for another two days before their signals were restored.