Attacks on the Press in 2006 - Snapshots: Kenya
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||February 2007|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2006 - Snapshots: Kenya, February 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c56750c.html [accessed 24 April 2014]|
Police raided two alternative newspapers in February, detaining journalists as well as vendors. Local journalists linked the attack on the Weekly Citizen to a story alleging that President Mwai Kibaki was "senile" and no longer in control of the government. Reasons for the raid on The Independent were unclear. Ezekiel Mutua, secretary-general of the Kenya Union of Journalists, said the government, amid widespread accusations of corruption, was seeking excuses to intimidate journalists. The alternative press is known for reporting on sex and political scandals.
In February, police detained three journalists with The Standard, Kenya's oldest daily newspaper, over a story alleging that Kibaki had held a secret meeting with a fired former minister to bring him back into the shaky government. The weekend edition's managing director, Chaacha Mwita, copy editor Dennis Onyango, and reporter Ayub Savula were charged two days later with publishing "alarming statements" and released on bail. Their trial began in August. In late September, local media reported that the state had dropped the case after two key witnesses failed to show up in court.
Armed and masked police officers conducted a midnight raid at the offices of The Standard on March 2, harassing staff, vandalizing equipment, and setting fire to roughly 20,000 copies of the next day's edition. Internal Security Minister John Michuki told journalists that the raid was carried out to protect state security, while a police statement said the newspaper had accepted money to print "a series of fabricated articles aimed at achieving instability." A similar raid was made on the offices of the Kenya Television Network (KTN), which is owned by the Standard Group; several staffers were detained, and as many as 40 computer hard drives were confiscated.
In May, Michuki warned journalists that he would use force against local media outlets that criticized the government, according to local and international news reports. Referring to the March raids on The Standard and KTN, Michuki said, "I have no apologies to make on the destruction that the government meted out." He said he would order "a repeat performance to any media house which is out to destroy the government."