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Media council and journalists demand arrest of AP officers for assaulting reporter

Journalists from Siaya County join traders in protesting against the arrest and assault of Bondo-based Standard correspondent Isaiah Gwengi over his reports on human Rights abuses. Photo: Olivia Odhiambo/ Standard


Journalists from Siaya County join traders in protesting against the arrest and assault of Bondo-based Standard correspondent Isaiah Gwengi over his reports on human Rights abuses. Photo: Olivia Odhiambo/ Standard

The media fraternity has demanded the arrest of AP officers in Usenge over alleged assault on Standard Group journalist Isaiah Gwengi and a human rights defender.

Media Council of Kenya (MCK), Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), Political Journalists Association of Kenya (PJAK) and Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), said the matter would be pursued until the rogue officers are brought to book.

MCK chairman Charles Kerich said there were increased cases of journalists being harassed, intimidated and physically assaulted while in the line of duty across the country.

And of concern to the media fraternity is that the perpetrators include police officers who are supposed to provide security and protection to all citizens.

“The media fraternity will pursue the matter to ensure due process is followed and the perpetrators face the full force of the law,” Mr Kerich said in a joint statement.

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Mr Gwengi was arrested on Wednesday evening and physically assaulted alongside Usenge based-human rights defender Rodgers Ochieng.

The duo were arrested on trumped-up charges of incitement, beaten up by the police before being booked at Usenge Police Station.

“They were beaten up by the suspected police officers and later treated at Got Agulu hospital before spending the night at Usenge Police Station,” said Kerich.

Attack worrying

Standard Group Deputy Editorial Director Kipkoech Tanui said it was worrying that the attack on Gwengi was premeditated.

“If the police are daring enough to attack a journalist who they know can report the incident, what about an ordinary Kenyan who does not have any voice?” posed Mr Tanui.

Reports indicate the journalist was gathering information on police abuses and harassment in Usenge, Siaya County.

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Further reports indicate the journalist and the human rights defender were stripped and asked whether they were circumcised.

“The treatment was dehumanising, unconstitutional and a breach of their right to privacy. This is a daring act that sends a chilling message to the common citizen. It makes nonsense of the progress of police reforms currently being undertaken,” added Tanui.

According to Gwengi, the police officers took his phone by force and removed his two SIM cards.

“I was stripped and the officers demanded to check if I was circumcised,” said Gwengi

Reports further suggest that trouble started when two traders were arrested on Tuesday and, since then, the town has been under curfew from 6pm to 6am without any gazettement.

Since the arrest of the two traders, the residents have been threatening to hold a demonstration.

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