Media Council of Kenya (MCK) chairman, Maina Muiruri, has called on the government to safeguard the security of journalists during the electioneering period.
Speaking in Kirinyaga town today, Muiruri said journalists’ safety and security in their line of duty must be guaranteed by the State security machinery.
Muiruri was joined in the meeting by Kirinyaga County Commissioner Jim Njoka who said, while the government has role to play in ensuring security of journalists, the media must on its part do its work responsibly in a balanced manner.
Njoka told the journalists to report any incidents of harassment or intimidation.
Muiruri was distributing MCK branded safety wear to Kirinyaga-based journalists to be used during the election activities’ coverage.
Over 30 media personnel accredited by the MCK received denim jackets and caps branded with the ‘Press’ logo, and copies of the Code of Conduct for Practice of Journalism in Kenya.
This comes after the commission commissioned the formation of an inter-media team which will co-ordinate the safety and protection of media workers ahead of the 2022 General Election.
The formation was brought about by the increased threats and harassment targeting journalists and media workers during the electioneering period.
The team, comprising editorial directors, editors-in-chief and heads of content from various media houses, will be chaired by Royal Media Services (RMS) Editorial Director Joe Ageyo and will be tasked with crafting practical guidelines that will ensure the safety of journalists covering the August elections.
“The Council has identified disparities on safety of journalists, including situations where policies of some media houses do not allow their journalists to evacuate their counterparts from other media houses during distress,” MCK CEO David Omwoyo said in a statement.
“MCK believes that the protection of journalists while in the course of duty and especially ahead of the 2022 General Election requires collective action and goodwill from senior editors to commit to prioritise and provide leadership on the matter.”
Apart from crafting the said guidelines, the inter-media team will similarly create new avenues to empower journalists to fight for their safety rights while on active duty.
“It will also provide reasonable coverage of matters of press freedom violations whenever relevant stakeholders and actors raise concern and propose action to duty bearers including government leaders and political aspirants on the need to protect media privileges and spell clear consequences of violating the same,” Omwoyo added.