Kenyan authorities should credibly investigate and swiftly bring to justice those responsible for attacking and threatening Emmanuel Namisi, a broadcast journalist for the Royal Media group, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Namisi told CPJ that men he identified as bodyguards of Kenneth Lusaka, governor of the western Kenyan county of Bungoma, threatened him and assaulted him at a Bungoma club on the night of June 5. He said the men were angry at a story he had written alleging they played a role in the death of a woman at a political rally three nights prior.
“One of the bodyguards came to me and asked why I was doing this story,” Namisi told CPJ. “Then they came and started to abuse me.”
Namisi told CPJ that the bodyguards accused him of “spoiling” their image, and told him he “should be very careful,” reminding him that he was a civilian, and that they were police. Namisi told CPJ that the assault dislocated his leg, for which he sought medical treatment.
“Kenyan security officials should credibly investigate the assault on Royal Media journalist Emmanuel Namisi and to show definitively that no one is above the law,” CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal said from Durban, South Africa. “When attacks on journalists are met with impunity, all journalists are more at risk.”
Lusaka did not answer CPJ’s repeated phone calls seeking comment. He told the daily Kenyan newspaper The Star that he was “told about the incident and felt very bad.”
“I don’t condone physical violence, I don’t know what exactly provoked that, but I have cautioned all my staff against such behavior,” he told The Star.
Contacted by CPJ by phone, a Bungoma police officer who did not give his name said that he would discuss the case only in person, at the Bungoma police station.