NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25 – The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) says anybody who feels aggrieved by the reportage of any journalist in the country should file their protest with the MCK Complaints Commission.
The statement is in reaction to Thursday’s move by the State on Standard Group’s Chief Executive Officer and journalists over coverage of the Westgate terror attack.
MCK chairman Joseph Odindo indicated that the use of police in this case was an abuse of power.
He pointed out that disputes relating to media coverage and the conduct of journalists should be referred to the complaints commission and not the police.
“The Media Council of Kenya takes great exception to the action taken by the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo against the Standard Media Group for their coverage of Westgate. Yesterday police issued summons to the Group’s CEO Mr Sam Shollei and two journalists of the Group’s television station, John-Allan Namu and Mohamed Ali. This is a deplorable assault on freedom of expression and the people’s right to know,” he said.
He said that the mandate of the Commission is to establish whether or not Standard Group journalists overstepped their ethical and legal bounds.
“By digging deeper into the Westgate affair, the media has exposed the heroic efforts of our security forces as well as shameful incidents of misconduct. They have captured the tragedy of bereaved families and the callous brutality of the terrorists. In a word, they have made possible informed and intelligent discussion of one of Kenya’s worst national tragedies,” he said.
He explained that the use of this channel will prevent an assault on the freedom of expression and the people’s right to know.
“Under the new constitutional dispensation, disputes relating to media coverage and the conduct of journalists should be referred to the Complaints Commission of the Media Council of Kenya and not to police investigators,” he said.
His sentiments had been echoed by the Kenya Editors’ Guild which expressed shock and dismay on the threats directed against the media from Kimaiyo in relation to the coverage of the Westgate terrorist attack.
Chairman of the Guild Macharia Gaitho stated that the police chief was threatening to arrest and prosecute journalists who have done nothing wrong but fulfil their primary mandate of informing Kenyans and on a matter of great national and international interest.
He stated that this mandate become even more critical in an environment where official communication from the relevant government arms, especially the security agencies, has displayed a high degree of obfuscation and misinformation that lends credence to suspicion of cover-up.