Every year, May 3rd is celebrated by journalists all around the world as world media freedom day.
It is a day set aside to mark the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
Ahead of World Media Freedom Day celebrations, UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye urged all government to secure press freedom.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Kaye noted that journalists are watchdogs over governments and that has become difficult to do in recent time. He said:
“Leaders see journalism as the enemy, reporters as rogue actors, tweeps as terrorists, and bloggers as blasphemers.”
“In some regions, the expansive and decentralized nature of contemporary media, with its heavy economic reliance on advertising, spectacle, and items whose main purpose is to attract attention to a website, has forced media outlets to take risks that do not always pay off.”
Kaye termed the harassment of journalists a global crisis and called for the press to be free and independent to carry out its role.
“In this crisis, I call on all governments to take steps to protect and promote independent journalism. Specifically, I call on those in positions of authority to.”
To mark the occasion in Kenya, the Kenyan government reiterated its commitment to protecting journalists against any form of abuse.
ICT CS Joe Mucheru while speaking to stakeholders at the KICC in Nairobi said Kenya will not tolerate the harassment and killing of journalists. He said the government has put in place punitive measures against culprits.
“Reported instances where journalists have been harassed and killed in the line of duty are unacceptable.”
“The government is determined to protect the media space and will take punitive measures on those who harass journalists.”
Mucheru further noted that journalists’ safety comes first even though they are the watchdog of the government. He, however, appealed to employers of journalists to do away with unqualified ones who report fake news to the people.
“As we approach the elections, take it as your patriotic duty to hold the country together, weed out quacks,” he said, adding that qualified ones should be paid well for their effort.