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Government ordered to protect election observers, journalists who will be monitoring polls

The Government has been told to secure the observers and journalists who will be will be monitoring the August 8 General Election.

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-K) decried harassment of the civil society and the fourth estate during the party primaries and ongoing campaigns, despite the groups playing a critical role.

According to a report released by the NCHRD-K yesterday, 13 cases of intimidation of human rights defenders, monitors and journalists have been reported since April.

“Election monitors and observers play an important role in enhancing the transparency and credibility of elections and democratic governance. Information documented by the group has been critical in highlighting electoral malpractices and human rights violations,” reads the report released yesterday.

“However, at the same time, the information has put these human rights defenders at risk of reprisal from state and non-state actors. The state must ensure the security of citizens and that of the monitors is guaranteed during the elections,” adds the report.

The report identified the Nandi/Kisumu border as hostile areas for human right defenders to operate because of suspicion from local communities.

“Human rights defenders residing along the Nandi/Kisumu border face a serious risk as the local community blames them for the cases that were presented before the International Criminal Court in the The Hague following Kenya’s post-2007 election violence. This makes them fearful of actively carrying out their monitoring role,” states the report.

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Journalists have been victimised in Uasin Gishu and Wajir counties, with an editor of a local media house, the Wajir Chronicles, injured on April 8, after a group of youth attacked him when he attempted to access the venue of a political rally.

According to the report, during party nominations, election observers and monitors were arrested in Laikipia, Kisumu, Garissa and Nakuru counties and their equipment confiscated.

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