Nyeri Town: Politicians and the public in general have been cautioned against attacking journalists during their course of duty especially during this electioneering year.
Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) Secretary General Dr. Evangeline Njoka defended journalists on the grounds that as media practitioners they are bound by the public opinion which they present.
In a speech read on her behalf by Deputy Secretary General Christine Maingi to journalists attending a capacity building workshop on the UN Plan of Action on safety of journalists at a Nyeri Hotel on Wednesday, Dr. Njoka said the media play a crucial role in the fight against injustice, oppression and partiality in society.
She reiterated that media practitioners were messengers who deserve fair treatment from society for the work they do.
“The safety of journalists as they work anywhere in Kenya and indeed in the world, is therefore crucial. The society must resist the temptation to shoot or demonise the messenger,” said the Secretary General.
She however called upon the media to report responsibly to enhance their safety because some work in volatile areas occasioned by border disputes, political tensions, terrorism and cattle rustling.
“As you carry out your duties, we urge you to remember to do so responsibly,” she appealed.
Dr. Njoka noted that this being a political season, campaigns would heighten hence the need for the media remain impartial to shape the public opinion and strengthen the society.
“The issue of fighting impunity is a key pact for the development of communication as an area of concern to offer free and safe environment for media workers with a view to enhance democracy,” she noted.
Dr. Njoka revealed that KNATCOM in its five year Strategic Plan 2014-2018 has planned for national campaigns to create awareness on the safety of journalists.
“As an organisation we will therefore be meeting and training members of the Fourth Estate in various counties as we continue promoting the safety of journalists through our various activities,” she stated.
She asked journalists to share their experiences from other regions to learn lessons regarding their work environment as the country prepares for general elections.
“The commission aims at establishing an inter-coordinated mechanism that ensures safety for journalists regarding the spread of information while acting on the principles of international guidelines,” said the SG .
She maintained that the knowledge contained in the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and together as a country the organisation will work towards promoting a free and safe environment for journalists with a view to creating an informed citizenry that is capable of strengthening peace, democracy and development.