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Is Media Violating Kenya Constitution During Riots?

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Kenya Media and Riots coverage. Kenya Media and Riots coverage.

A story in Nation reads, “Five Kisumu journalists were harassed, beaten and injured by police while covering the anti-IEBC demos Monday. About 20 officers from the General Service Unit mobbed Rashid Ronald of KTN and Faith Matete of the Star… The officers clobbered Mr Ronald, injuring him on the leg. While beating him, they said Kisumu journalists were not any special than protesters on the street. The officers then lobbed teargas canisters at NTV’s Ouko Okusa, his cameraperson Doreen Magak and Daily Nation reporter Rushdie Oudia… Earlier, rioters had also harassed motorists, extorting money from them and forcing the police to disperse them with teargas.”

Kenya constitution article 3. (1) Every person has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend this Constitution. (2) Any attempt to establish a government otherwise than in compliance with this Constitution is unlawful.

Key Points when analyzing the story.

  1. Police primary role is to protect the rights of citizens, to protect property and to ensure others rights are not violated. The National Police is part of the Kenya Constitution National Security organs created by Chapter 14.
  2. Media role is through the exercise of sovereign power directly to exercise the right established in article 34. 
  3. Both Police and Media are required to respect, uphold and defend the constitution.
  4. How then could an exercise of 37 lead to police attacking media?      

Kenya Constitution article 37. Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities. 

Key Points on Rights 37.

  1. Kenya Constitution establishes the right to demonstrate and present petitions. The right does not extend to riots, violence and property destruction. 
  2. The right of exercising is established by the person/s who want to exercise this right. It is the responsibility of the person/s to state: how they will exercise this right; the public road or ground they will apply when exercising their right; the persons to be present; the demonstration time; and the the things that shall be done.
  3. The police as providers of security on public roads responsibility is to ensure individual rights both of persons demonstrating and those not demonstrating are not violated.  
  4. A permit by Kenya police will allow the persons use the public facilities for the stated purposes.  
  5. The media role is to cover the story of the demonstration based on the permit issued. 
  6. If Kenya Constitution 37 is followed then the police and media would be both as independent entities working together to facilitate and report the demonstration based on the permit. 
  7. If things not listed on the permit like: harassing motorists, blocking roads, destruction of property occur then both police and media are supposed to obey the laws.    

Conclusion

  1. The Media should understand the Media constitutional responsibility per Kenya constitution as per 3. (1) “Every person has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend this Constitution.” 
  2. When an Exercise of Right 37 involves rioters harassing motorists and extorting money, the Media should understand that this is no longer an exercise of Constitutional Right article 37.  
  3. The Media should be careful not to be labeled as facilitators of violence or facilitators of establishment of a government through a process of riots as denied by Kenya Constitution article 3 (2) Any attempt to establish a government otherwise than in compliance with this Constitution is unlawful.  


 

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