Journalists have been urged to be objective in their reporting especially during this electioneering year. Speaking during a Journalists cocktail, Kibra Member of Parliament who doubles up as a KEPHRA member said that the media have a key role to play in providing information and analysis, functioning as watchdogs and be a conduit for society’s voices. And in reference to the Prevention of Torture and the Coroner Service bills, he stated that being the voice of the society journalists need to understand the bills and educate the right holders and the duty bearers on the same.
He pointed out that through the media, atrocities have been exposed, e.g. cases of corporal punishment in schools and extra-judicial executions adding that social media is particular, has contributed greatly to this flight and is changing the political landscape. He encouraged the media to utilize vernacular radio stations which have a wide reach and should thus be used for positive influence and to make a genuine positive impact in society, and not to incite others to violence. He further encouraged journalists to give relevant news the attention it deserves, and specifically focus on reporting real issues, telling the true story and exposing EJEs, disappearances, torture and death.
Present at the Cocktail dinner was the Deputy CEO of the Media Council of Kenya who gave a few pointers which journalists must keep in mind during this election period and while reporting news on election related cases like understanding media law and study their code of ethics to effectively relay the news to the people. He pointed out that Kenya needs a media policy to guide the workings of media houses and ensure that there is impartiality, integrity and honesty in how they deliver their news, since 2 families own 28 radio stations and 88% of media stations today are owned by politicians. “I encourage media personalities to preach peace and contribute to peaceful and fair elections however possible.” He said urging them to exercise professionalism impartiality and fairness when doing so.
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) Secretary General Eric Oduor encouraged journalists to work really hard to build a brand that is attributed to the quality of ones work, and as well to be an authority in a particular area the media, giving examples of John Allan Namu and Mohammed Ali. He further urged them to be involved in the making of law and contribute to decision making through whichever means possible, for example the Prevention of Torture and the Coroners bills.
imluweb_backup has in the past three years invested in training journalists as it recognizes the important role played by reporters, columnists, correspondents, editors and other media practitioners who work to sensitize the public on human rights and thus putting the issues of access to justice on the radar of public debate in the country. The training have had an impact a there has been an increase in reporting of torture and EJE cases by the media. This engagement has helped place the organization in the public limelight as well as create public awareness on issues of torture. So far imluweb_backup has trained and recruited 36 journalists from 27 Counties in its network of professionals.
Present during the cocktail dinner were imluweb_backup network journalists, Nairobi-based journalists who are passionate about torture and human rights reporting and have been involved in human rights advocacy in the course of their work and members of the Police Reform Working Group.