The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has denounced the Directorate of Criminal Investigation’s summons issued against the Royal Media Services editorial leadership.
This follows a recent exposé aired on Citizen TV linking the National Police Service to criminal activities.
In the exposé dubbed, Guns Galore, by Purity Mwambia aired on Sunday night, 18th April, the station exposed how rogue police officers promote crime by hiring out their police gear, guns, uniforms, bulletproof vests, and handcuffs, to criminals for as low as Ksh1,000.
In a press statement, issued on Tuesday, 20th April, MCK Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo said the summons issued against the editorial bosses violates freedom of the press.
“While the Council recognizes the role of the DCI, it expects that the process is geared towards investigating the matter and not violating freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information as provided in the Constitution in articles 33, 34, 35 and the Media Council Act 2013,” the CEO said.
“In this case where the media has exposed weaknesses among some elements in the National Police Service, natural justice demands the same Service cannot then purport to investigate or otherwise summon the journalists. Instead, efforts should be put toward finding out how their members are providing civilians with guns, bullets, uniforms and handcuffs.”
Omwoyo further said if the DCI or the National Police Service feels aggrieved by the investigative piece, they should file a formal complaint with the Media Complaints Commission, which is legally mandated to handle such matters under Section 27 of the Media Council Act 2013.
“In addition to journalistic protection when carrying out public duty as provided in the Constitution, Kenya is a signatory to and is bound by other international instruments, including the Tswane Principles on National Security and Freedom of Expression. Summoning journalists about their work or coercing them to reveal their sources is a violation of press freedom and the Constitution,” he added.
On Tuesday, addressing the media at the DCI headquarters, on Kiambu Road,Nairobi, DCI boss George Kinoti said that the firearms that Mwambia saw are not issued to the Kenyan officers.
He termed the report as malicious and aimed at depicting the National Police Service in a bad light.
“The allegations made in the report are extremely serious. It is also apparent that crimes relating to unlawful possession of firearms may have been committed in the context of this report,” he said.
“In this regard, and pursuant to the provisions granted by Section 52 of the National Police Act, the Editorial Director, Director Strategy and Innovation, and the relevant reporter of Royal Media Services will be summoned to this office to record statements and provide police with further information that will assist in investigations.”