MCK Reports Bodyguards Who Assaulted NTV Journalists To IPOA

By the time of publishing, it was not clear whether or not the journalists were injured during the confrontation.

MCK Reports Bodyguards Who Assaulted NTV Journalists To IPOA
NMG journalists assaulted in Murang'a on Thursday, November 24, 2022. /TWITTER

UPDATE: The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has called upon the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to punish the security detail attached to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's wife, Dorcas Rigathi, which was captured on camera assaulting Nation Media Group (NMG) journalist Mwangi Muiruri.

MCK CEO David Omwoyo, while condemning the attack, urged IPOA to identify the officers in the incident and take action against them, further regretting that Muiruri was attacked by the officers and verbally abused despite clearly displaying his media badge and following their instructions.

"The Media Council of Kenya condemns the attack against a Nation Group journalist, Mr Mwangi Muiruri, by plain cloth policemen attached to the office of Kenya's Second Lady on November 24 in Murang'a County.

"The Media Council of Kenya urges the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to identify, publicly name and take appropriate action against the officers involved to not only protect press freedom but also guard against impunity by those acting under the false guise of anonymity," Omwoyo stated, further exposing the emerging trend in which policemen with plain clothes guarding senior government officials are attacking journalists in contravention to known laws and norms.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's wife, Dorcas Rigathi, is on the spot after her security detail assaulted two Nation Media Group (NMG) journalists.

A video seen by Viral Tea on Thursday, November 24 captured the duo, NMG's Murang'a correspondent Mwangi Muiruri being attacked by plain-clothes police officers in the company of their colleague in uniform, with one of them slapping him.

His colleague, Martin Mwaura of NTV could be heard pleading with the security detail to release him, informing them that he was his colleague.

Here is the video:

However, his phone was confiscated when he captured the assault on camera. 

The duo had gone to cover an event in Murang'a County where the Second Lady was scheduled to spearhead the distribution of relief food in the area hit by the effects of food shortage.

The journalist had taken out his phone to record the proceeding in line with NMG's digital-first strategy, a matter which triggered the confrontation.

One of the officers, upon noticing that they had been recorded, grabbed his phone and deleted the video in an attempt to conceal the evidence before returning it. The footage, which found its way on social media platforms, was however recovered.

The officers who descended upon the journalist were accused of ignoring the media identification badge the journalist claimed was displayed clearly for them to see.

By the time of publishing, it was not clear whether or not the journalists were injured during the confrontation.

On August 24, 2022, the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) revealed 43 incidences of assault on journalists during the August 9 general elections.

"Unfortunately, MCK also observed increased cases of press freedom violations including denial to access voting areas, critical information from relevant public bodies, profiling of journalists and media outlets, online trolling of journalists and media outlets and in some cases physical attacks on journalists. At least 43 journalists from various media houses were affected by various forms of harassment in 12 incidences documented by the Council.

"Majority of these (37) were involved in incidences that denied them an opportunity to easily access their designated polling and tallying centres while the others included arrest, threats and harassment," MCK stated in its report dubbed Media Performance & Press Freedom Violations Pre, During & Post the August 9 General Election in Kenya.

MCK had called on the police and other agencies to expedite investigations and bring the culprits to book. 

Some of the cases also involved online attacks with MCK noting that the government's decision not to block internet access during the electioneering period rendered some digital journalists vulnerable to online harassment.

This is despite notable adherence to the Constitution of Kenya's regulations on the freedom of expression as well as media freedoms during that period.

Kenyan journalists covering a press conference at a past event. /KUJ