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Kenya journalists need defense

THE KENYA UNION of Journalists is up in arms over alleged mistreatment of news reporters and photojournalists by over-zealous members of the presidential security unit. Journalists have enough reason to be worried when they are routinely manhandled by security personnel without anyone lifting a finger.

There is no question that during the last five years, democratic space has expanded tremendously, and journalists have not been left too far behind by the freedom train. But if the trend of harassing the media continues, this may no longer be the case.

During presidential functions, journalists have continued to be intimidated, their tools of trade confiscated, and their presence actively resented.

What happened on Budget Day when journalists were locked out of Parliament is a case in point. What happened on Jamhuri Day last December is another example. Yet the appeal by journalists for official protection has fallen on deaf ears. Aren’t they supposed to do duty, just like security personnel?

The Head of State is not just any ordinary mortal; he is the property of the Kenyan people. As such, he deserves extraordinary protection against anyone or anything that might harm him. But then, isn’t it defeatist for the media to be prevented from covering him? Who would hear what he has to say?

There has always been a symbiotic relationship between politicians and journalists. Let the presidential guards not erect a barrier between him and the people whose representatives at news events the media is. We all need each other.

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