Kenyan police assault journalists investigating corruption-CPJ Says

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Tuesday April 21, 2015 - 09:45:56 in Local News by Chief Editor
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    Kenyan police assault journalists investigating corruption-CPJ Says

    Nairobi, April, 20, 2015-Two journalists were beaten by officers from Kenya's paramilitary police wing, the General Service Unit (GSU), at a cattle ranch in southeastern Kenya on April 18, according to news reports. Nehemiah Okwembah, from the p

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Nairobi, April, 20, 2015-Two journalists were beaten by officers from Kenya's paramilitary police wing, the General Service Unit (GSU), at a cattle ranch in southeastern Kenya on April 18, according to news reports. Nehemiah Okwembah, from the privately owned paper Nation and Reuben Ogachi, a cameraman for the privately owned station Citizen TV, were covering a story in Bombi, a village on the outskirts of the Agricultural Development Cooperation Galana and Kulalu ranch, 576km (358 miles) east of the capital, Nairobi.

Using clubs and metal rods, about 15 GSU officers beat Okwembah and Ogachi before the officers' superior ordered them to stop, Okwembah told CPJ. Also injured were Tana River County Governor Hussein Dado's political adviserAbarobaBarisa, communication official Ali Wario, and a driver, news reportssaid. The journalists are receivingtreatmentat Aga Khan Hospital in the coastal city of Mombasa,Okwembah said.He told CPJ he hadinjurieson his legs, back, shoulders and hands and Ogachi's right leg was broken. TheNationreporter will be discharged on Wednesday, but Ogachi will remain at the hospital for further treatment, he added.

"There is no justification for this attack on Nehemiah Okwembah and Reuben Ogachi, who were simply doing their jobs," said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. "Kenyan police must not be allowed to attack journalists with impunity. We call on authorities to thoroughly investigate the assault and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law."

Okwembah and Ogachi had gone to the state-run ranch after interviewing residents who claimed that on April 17 GSU officers had allegedly impounded about 200 cattle for trespassing on themillion-acreranch. The officers were allegedlydemanding500 Kenyan shillings (US$5.30) per head of cattle to return them, Okwembah said. The journalists were attacked as soon as they arrived at the ranch, he added. The officers immediately started beating the journalists, destroying their video cameras in the process, according tonews reports.

Inspector General Joseph Boinett said on April 18 that police are investigating the incident,news reportssaid.

 

Kenyan journalists have been repeatedlytargetedfor reporting on allegations of police malpractice, according to CPJ research. In November last year, police in Kisumu, western Kenya,threatenedJustus Ochieng, a journalist at the privately owned dailyThe Starwith "dire consequences" for a story that alleged criminal activity by police officers in the region, Ochieng told CPJ.

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CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
Contact:

Sue Valentine
Africa Program Coordinator
Tel: +1 212-300-9004
Email:svalentine@cpj.org

Kerry Paterson
Africa Research Associate
Email:kpaterson@cpj.org

Peter Nkanga
West Africa Representative
Email:pnkanga@cpj.org

Tom Rhodes
East Africa Representative
Email:trhodes@cpj.org