The murder of a veteran Kenyan editor is the latest evidence of rising levels of intimidation and harassment of journalists in East Africa’s largest economy, according to a local media group.
John Kituyi, the founder of the western Kenya-based newspaper The Mirror, was attacked late on Thursday after disembarking from a bus near his home in the town of Eldoret, according to an e-mailed statement on Friday from the Kenya Correspondents Association. Kituyi had recently received death threats over a story he worked on.
“There is a pattern of increasing threats, intimidation, and assault of journalists, which borders on impunity,” the group said.
Kituyi’s family reported that he was found with a deep cut in his neck and bruises all over his body. The cause of death hasn’t been officially announced.
Journalists in Kenya are being targeted by security agencies and politicians, especially in the area around Eldoret, according to the group. In one recent incident, two journalists were attacked by army officers, and had to seek medical treatment, it said. The region suffered some of the worst of the ethnic violence that swept the country after the December 2007 election.
Information Secretary Ezekiel Mutua told a meeting of journalists on Thursday that the government respects the freedom of the press, according to the Kenya Correspondents Association. No one answered the phone at the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology when Bloomberg called seeking comment on Friday, a public holiday.
Kenya fell 19 spots to rank 90th out of 180 nations on Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index. President Uhuru Kenyatta in December 2013 passed a new media law that created a government-appointed body to regulate journalists and established a code of conduct with stiff fines and prison terms for violations.