DPP commits to hasten prosecution of crimes against journalists

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Renson Ingonga, has promised to create a safe environment for journalists to operate.

He said investigations and prosecution of crimes committed against journalists will be expedited.

Ingonga expressed concern that the crimes against journalists continue despite several measures being taken to protect journalists.

He spoke during the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

“Journalists play an integral role in disseminating information on public interest, promoting the rule of law, and upholding freedom of expression and media, as well as accessing information pursuant to the provisions of Articles 33, 34, 35, and 37 of the Constitution,” he said.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists in General Assembly Resolution A/RES/68/163.

The Resolution urged member states to implement measures countering the present culture of impunity.

The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on November 2, 2013.

Ingonga said free and independent media is the cornerstone of any democracy.

He said the freedom ensures transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs.

“Journalists are the voice of the voiceless and seek to inform the public of their rights, freedoms, and public interest-related issues,” Ingonga said.

“I’m honored to stand before you today with a clear and unequivocal commitment to all the rights and freedoms of journalists within the confines of the law.”

Ingonga said witnesses and whistleblowers will be protected at all costs to ensure quality prosecutions are undertaken, especially against powerful individuals.

He urged journalists to use the Whistleblowers Protection Act as well as the Witness Protection Act in the course of their duties.

The DPP proposed joint training programs for prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to address crimes against journalists.

“I undertake to ensure that crimes against journalists are not only expeditiously prosecuted, but I also endeavor to hold those found culpable to account, no matter their stature in the society,” Ingonga said.

He said he will foster close collaboration between his office and the Kenya media stakeholder working group to enhance information sharing and the exchange of ideas.

He urged the media to be accountable and beware of fake news.

His sentiments come even as a new report launched during the event shows that misinformation, especially during elections, is rife.

Kenya Editors Guild raised concerns over the escalating threats and attacks on journalists, saying they risk sinking society.

Guild Member Francis Mureithi said journalists in many countries, Kenya included, are being threatened, attacked and even murdered for bringing essential information to the public.

He said security agencies and individuals im power are the ones perpetuating the attacks.

“We have seen journalists being attacked during political rallies and other political activities. We have witnessed influential politicians making public statements against journalists, some going to the extent of ordering their supporters to boycott certain media houses. All these amount to impunity and crime against journalists,” Mureithi said.

Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General Eric Oduor cited several cases, where journalists have been summoned by DCI for doing their work.

“Allow journalists to do their job,” Oduor said, adding that there have been unprecedented attacks on journalists this year.

He said press freedom in the country was declining at an alarming rate.

The SG urged the DPP to disclose the number of perpetrators’ files forwarded for action in order for them to be held accountable and allow the media to operate freely.