Ken Bosire, the managing editor of Kenya’s People Daily newspaper has reported harassment and intimidation against two journalists assigned by his newspaper to cover parliamentary proceedings in Nairobi.
Journalists Dinah Ondari and Anthony Mwangi were reportedly criticized during a parliamentary session and threatened with a ban from covering parliamentary proceedings during a parliamentary session on July 31.
A July 31 Hansard record of the Kenyan parliament’s proceedings shows that the two journalists were summoned by a legislative committee of the Kenyan parliament. The events followed the publication in People Daily on July 30 and July 31 of articles alleging that members of parliament were soliciting and accepting bribes from organizations and individuals they were supposed to be investigating.
A ruling party member of parliament, Robert Pukose described the said articles in the People Daily as an affront to the assembly and said its reporting was a blanket condemnation of all MPs. Pukose asked the National Assembly speaker, Justin Muturi to institute an investigation against the People Daily in relation to its reporting.
Pukose’s calls were backed by other members of parliament, including Majority Leader Aden Duale and Minority Leader John Mbadi. In response, Muturi directed the house’s Powers and Privileges Committee to investigate the said claims.
On August 1, the clerk of the National Assembly sent a letter inviting Peter Opondo, the editor-in-chief of Mediamax, the People Daily‘s parent company, to appear the following day in front of MPs to “assist with investigations” into allegations of misconduct in the house. A team of five Mediamax employees, including Bosire and Mwangi, appeared in front of the committee on Friday but requested a ten-day extension to prepare a submission for the Powers and Privileges Committee.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York issued a statement on Friday asking parliamentarians in Kenya to stop harassing journalists and allow them to report on the legislature without fear of reprisal.
“If members of the Kenyan parliament are serious about fighting corruption, then attempts to intimidate journalists into silence must be abandoned immediately,” CPJ’s Muthoki Mumo said.
The People Daily newspaper is privately owned, but associated with the family of President Uhuru Kenyatta.