Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

Kenya: Journalists harassed for showing army looting during Westgate mall attack

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 24 October 2013
Cite as Article 19, Kenya: Journalists harassed for showing army looting during Westgate mall attack, 24 October 2013, available at: [accessed 22 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

**Update: Kenyan police have now withdrawn their decision to arrest the journalists involved.

ARTICLE 19 condemns the police investigation into journalists who broadcast CCTV footage from the Westgate Mall terrorist attack showing army officers looting.

"It is wholly illegitimate to prosecute a journalist for doing their job and reporting criminal acts simply because the government does not like being embarrassed. Instead they should be praised," said Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Director for Eastern Africa.

"The police pressure on the journalists to declare their sources is worse still. Journalists have a professional obligation to protect confidential sources of information and the police should not compel them to reveal how they got the CCTV footage. The media should be allowed to continue asking uncomfortable questions regarding the terror attack and hold the government accountable for ensuring security in the country," he added.

The Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo has disclosed plans to arrest individual journalists from Kenya Television Network (KTN) for "propaganda" after the journalists John Allan Namu and Mohamed Ali broadcast CCTV footage of soldiers looting the Nakumatt Supermarket in the wake of last month's terror attack at Westgate Mall, Nairobi. A number of other journalists who aired the clips are also targeted for questioning.

The Chief of General Staff, General Julius Karangi responded to the footage saying that the soldiers only "picked water from the Nakumatt store with authority from their commanders to quench their thirst." Further footage however showed the soldiers looting safes in jewellery stores at the mall. Karangi said they were undertaking a procedure he termed as "sanitisation to ensure their safety." Most shop owners at the mall have complained that their shops were looted and money stolen during the attack.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the police to immediately stop any investigation into how any journalist got the footage, and uphold the constitutional guarantees of Freedom of Expression.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Kenya government to stop harassing and intimidating the journalists and instead give room for a healthy general debate on the security response to the terror attacks. Further, any restriction on the right to freedom of expression is not legitimate if its purpose is to protect the government from embarrassment or exposure of wrongdoing, or to conceal information about the functioning of its public institutions.

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