Between May 2020 and April 2021, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa recorded at least 51 cases of attacks against individual journalists, including 9 female journalists.
Although this is a slight drop from the 59 cases recorded between May 2019 and April 2020, still it’s high and unacceptable. Out of the 51 incidents, 25 took place between the last and first quarter of 2020 and 2021 respectively.
During the monitoring period, ARTICLE 19 EA documented attacks varying from phone call threats, intimidation, harassment both online and offline, physical assaults.
Others include invasion of a media house and in extreme cases, killing – Betty Barasa, a senior video editor and television producer at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
Journalists blamed police officers in majority of these attacks
Based on our research, including interviews with more than 25 journalists in at least 10 counties – some of whom were victims of these attacks – lack of accountability against perpetrators is a running theme in relation to most of the attacks.
Journalists decried the challenges stemming from a lack of access to any information on the status of their case, or any reports by authorities regarding investigations, after follow up by victims or colleagues to the victims.
Journalists told ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa during the interviews in March 2021 that these attacks had forced some of them into self-censorship or forced exile due to the perception that those attacking journalist enjoy impunity, especially state actors.
“Although this is a slight drop from the 59 cases recorded between May 2019 and April 2020, still it’s high and unacceptable”, said Mugambi Kiai, Regional Director at ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.
“Authorities must ensure protection of all journalists, including by carrying out a thorough, impartial and credible investigation into all cases of attacks against journalists.
This should include providing information on the progress of such cases. If the authorities are indeed carrying out such investigations, providing information on investigations will help counter the perception that nothing is being done” said Kiai