Increasing attacks on journalists raises concerns

A journalist in Rongo Town, Migori County was last Thursday night attacked by unknown people while on his way to work. Linus Ombima, a journalist at local radio station Rameny FM was attacked at around 8pm as he was heading to the station where he hosts a night program.

The attack on Mr. Ombima raises concern over the security of journalists working as essential service providers in the country after Mr. Mohammed Marjan who worked with Kibera’s Pamoja FM was attacked and killed by criminals only days ago while coming from work.

According to Rameny FM Station Manager Mr. Paul Ochola Odhiambo, the attackers left the journalist with serious injuries. ‘‘Mr.Linus Ombima was leaving home for work where he reports for duty at 8pm.  As he was leaving his house in BAT Store area in Rongo Town, he met assailants who attacked and robbed him of everything before they slashed his head twice with a panga causing him serious injuries.” Said Mr. Odhiambo via phone

Mr. Odhiambo added that there was not available immediate medical help in Rongo Town hence the victim had to be transported several kilometres away to Homa Bay Referral Hospital for medical attention. The victim has now been referred to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital in Kisumu for further treatment according to Mr. Odhiambo as he said on phone

Rongo area police have since visited Mr. Ombima in hospital and recorded his statement, promising to investigate the incident with view of bringing the perpetrators to book.

Barely a week ago, a correspondent working for Milele FM under Mediamax and based in Nakuru Town was attacked minutes before the curfew. Mr. David Omurunga was attacked by six youths at Mashambani Stage opposite Pinkam House in Nakuru and robbed off his working tools, leaving him with injuries on his right hand.

‘‘On Sunday 14th May at around 6.45 pm, I was heading home in Nakuru. Six youths came and attacked me. A struggle ensued and they snatched my phone, voice recorder, some cash and some other items that facilitate my day-to-day work as a journalist,” said Mr.Omurunga.

The following day, Mr. Omurunga went and reported the matter at Nakuru Central Police Station where he was given an abstract indicating items lost and officers told him they would do investigations and arrest perpetrators. “Psychologically the incident has affected me because I cannot concentrate,’’ narrated distraught Mr. Omurunga via a phone interview.

According to Media Council of Kenya (MCK) over forty journalists have been attacked in the last two months alone. Head of Media Development and Strategy at MCK, Victor Bwire said they have reached out to police in the area to launch investigation on the attackers of Ombima. He also said attack on journalists is a serious concern

‘‘It is a serious issue of concern we want to ask journalists to be safe in accessing their environment. We also want media employers and editors to organize for transport for journalists working on night shifts.’’ said Bwire via phone.

In a press release the same day Kenya Community Media Network, KCOMNET and Kenya Correspondents Association, KCA strongly condemned increasing attacks directed at journalists as they go about their duties.

‘‘We call on the police to swiftly launch investigations into these incidents to bring those responsible to justice. Increasing failure to prosecute such cases only encourages more violence against journalists, which in turn, undermine press freedom. We appeal to the police to recognize the important role of the media and particularly during this COVID-19 period as they enforce the dusk to dawn curfew currently in force in Kenya. We are deeply concerned with cases of intimidation and harassment of field based journalists across the country in the course of duty over the last two months of the Corona pandemic,” said KCOMNET and KCA.