The police raid of the China Global Television Network (CGTN) that took place on Wednesday has elicited a strong reaction from the Standard newspaper.
In an editorial appearing on September 7, the paper condemned the police for “engaging in a tactless endeavour” and referring to the whole operation as having being carried out in a “clumsy manner.”
Standard also said the incident had desecrated the sanctity of the newsroom and that the officers ended up demeaning all journalists, themselves and the Constitution.
“The aim was to flush out illegal aliens working on CGTV in line with the directives of Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i. Yet by arresting the suspected aliens then releasing them almost immediately, the police demonstrated they were engaging in a tactless endeavour with the end objective being rent-seeking,” the paper’s editorial read.
Kenya’s second largest newspaper also questioned the professionalism of the police saying their conduct showed signs of incompetency. Standard wrote, “The clumsy manner of the whole operation exposed our police as ill-prepared to handle issues that ideally require intelligence, rather than use of brute force.”
Standard also put the government on the spotlight. ” Those officers who raided the TV station demeaned all journalists; they demeaned themselves and unfortunately, the Constitution that protects the rights of all, including non-Kenyans. The Government cannot desecrate the same Constitution it is supposed to safeguard and protect.”
The reaction of the Standard Newspaper as well as the incident that happened on Wednesday continues to echo the history of the raid that happened at the Mombasa Road based media house.
In March 2006, masked individuals stormed into the Standard Group premises and directed security officers to burn newspapers as well as walk away with computers belonging to the media house.
Safety of Journalists
The arrested foreigners from the CGTN incident on Wednesday, reportedly journalists and staff of the Chinese media house, were released on the same day. Police said immigration papers of those detained were okay and later apologised to the Chinese state-owned broadcaster saying the raid was founded on false information.
Meanwhile, the Nation has called for attacks on reporters to cease.
The media house has seen its reporters face physical acts of violence while in pursuit of stories, the most high profile being the recent kidnapping of a Migori based reporter and a news source in relation to an alleged love triangle gone sour involving a Governor.
Whereas the reporter managed to escape by jumping out of a moving vehicle, his news source was later found murdered. The government has already said it is treating investigations into the reporter’s kidnapping as attempted murder.
Nation also lists the harrassing and detention of journalists at the Coast for filming the construction site of a hotel in Mombasa County that is suspected to be illegally encroaching on the Indian Ocean as well as the arrest of a reporter at the offices of a water company in Murang’a County, where a dispute has been raging.
“The emerging trend, where goons working for some politicians and administrators have attacked journalists, is a clear attempt at intimidating and stopping them from doing their job,” the Nation editorial reads.
The newspaper said there were avenues for redress in cases where one felt journalists were overstepping their mandate. “While journalists sometimes make mistakes, those aggrieved by any reporting have recourse to the courts. They can also petition the Complaints Commission of the Media Council of Kenya.”
The leading newspaper in terms of sales in the country also condemned the attacks as not only criminal and unacceptable, but also unconstitutional. “Safety of journalists is paramount for an effective independent media capable of serving the public interest.”