Some prominent Kenyan journalists are among licensed g*n holders in the country, BusinessToday has established, a revelation that could touch off a wave of applications from media personalities who feel insecure due to their exposure.
According to police insiders, 16 journalists, who we can’t reveal for security reasons, already own licensed g**s. Security authorities say journalists are among the growing number of civilians keen on taking precautionary measures, including seeking licences to carry concealed g**s, which can come in handy in case of personal a*****s.
Those in this category include prominent editors and news anchors in the country’s major media houses.
This is likely to stir debate on whether journalists are entitled to carry g**s for self-defence in a world where they are increasingly facing threats or being k****d especially in w*r situations, which has been going on globally recently or whether they should stick to their professional duty and leave it to other actors to protect them.
While Kenya is not in a w*r situation, increased insecurity and personal threats to journalists have been on the rise in recent years, perhaps, the reason some are keenly observing the national government’s mantra that “security begins with you.”
However, the last time a journalist was reported k****d in the line of duty in Kenya was April 2015 when John Kituyi, the editor of Eldoret-based Mirrow Weekly, was m******d for what many believe was his reporting of sensitive issues in the region. In 2009, Nyamira-based freelancer Francis Nyaruri disappeared and was later found d**d after writing a story highlighting police c********n in the area.
More recently, former CNN reporter and KTN talkshow host Jeff Koinange was attacked by a***d thugs at his home in Nairobi, who broke into his house and r****d him of his phone and other household valuables.
There are those who reckon that though it has long been taboo for reporters to carry w*****s, the fact that they are in constant danger (colleagues being g*********n and the authorities can’t protect them) journalists are beginning to rethink the journalistic commandment “thou shall not bear arms” and that words are the only w****n available to them.
Journalists having licensed g**s would be a major twist for the profession in the country as previously, such requests based on professional risks were promptly turned down. However, a security analyst told Business Today that the journalists may have obtained the licences in their private capacities and not because of their professional work.
In the western world, media houses are taking steps to protect their journalists and especially special correspondents covering wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in unstable countries such as the Philippines where reporters have been forced to take defensive postures but with mixed results.
This includes issuing flak jackets and providing “hostile environment training” to protect their reporters. But the debate has not been settled amid concerns over the safety of journalists in various countries worldwide.
On Wednesday, 300 delegates representing the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) marched through the city streets of Angers, France, to commemorate journalists k****d in the line of their profession.
Delegates who participated at the IFJ World Congress laid a white rose in front of the commemorative plaque for Camille Lepage, who was k****d on May 12, 2014 in the Central African Republic (CAR). The 26-year-old journalist had been travelling near the CAR border with Cameroon when she was caught up in f******g. The circumstances of her d***h remain unresolved.
IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, said: “The d***h of a journalist such as Camille is utterly painful. It is an injustice. The k*****g of journalists doesn’t only affect journalists, media and unions. It is a concern for society as a whole.”
The IFJ has been campaigning for several years on a wide scale to denounce impunity for c****s against journalists. It noted that only one m****r out of 10 is investigated and impunity remains the highest threat to press freedom in the world. The IFJ reiterated its call on world governments to do their utmost to bring journalists’ m*******s to justice.