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Saturday, 14 April 2012
TWO KENYAN JOURNALISTS THREATENED FOR THEIR REPORTING
Kenyan authorities must
investigate threats made against two journalists who covered a police raid
on a supermarket, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. One of
the journalists was also threatened in relation to another story he
On April 5, Osinde Obare, a reporter for the private
daily The Standard, and
David Musindi, a journalist for Radio Citizen, ran stories on a police raid
on a market in the western Kenyan town of Kitale, the journalists told CPJ.
The market had allegedly been selling fake maize seeds, according to news
Obare's article cited members
of the public saying that the market owner, Mahindra Khetia, was protected
by the police and therefore avoided arrest, local journalists told CPJ. The
day the stories ran, Luca Ogara, the police chief in Kitale, called Obare,
asking him why he wrote a negative story on the supermarket and the police,
Obare told CPJ. The official also told Obare there would be repercussions,
the journalist said. Ogara told CPJ that he did not threaten Obare, but
said that he had asked him for his sources.
On April 8, Obare received an
anonymous call warning him to "never set foot in Kitale," he told
CPJ. He had temporarily left the
town to attend a workshop in Nairobi, but had returned to Kitale this week,
Musindi told CPJ he had been
threatened by Khetia while covering the raid on April 4. When Musindi
attempted to interview Khetia, the supermarket owner "snubbed him and
threatened to ensure the journalist was removed from Kitale" if he aired
the story, a report released today by The Standard said. Musindi was able to record the threat,
which he gave to The Standard,
the journalist told CPJ. The story was broadcast on Radio Citizen on April
5, Musindi said.
Messages left at the
supermarket for Khetia were not returned.
Both journalists told CPJ
that unidentified men had been following them since they covered the story,
which had forced them to hide in an undisclosed location. They said they
had filed complaints with the police.
Obare told CPJ he had also
been threatened in relation to another story he had published. The
journalist ran a story in The Standard last
monthalleging that District Commissioner Nyamongo Nyabero had stolen relief
food meant for hunger victims in Pokot South District in western Kenya, and
had resold it in a market. On April 5, Nyabero allegedly threatened Obare
over the phone, saying he would "make sure you die while seated,"
the journalist said. Obare reported the threat to Kitale police station, he
said. Nyabero was arraigned in court on Tuesday and charged with theft,
news reports said. Repeated calls by CPJ to Nyabero were
"Journalists in western
Kenya are repeatedly targeted by local officials for their corruption
coverage," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "Kenyan
authorities must end this practice, and they should start by immediately
investigating these threats against Osinde Obare and David Musindi."
In January 2009, assailants brutally murderedWeekly Citizen journalist Francis Nyaruri shortly after his
coverage of a police housing scandal in western Kenya.
### CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization
that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.