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Media stakeholders workshop on journalists safety indicators in Kenya

UNESCO in partnership with African Media Initiative (AMI) organised a media stakeholder’s consultation on 23 February 2016 on the State of Journalists Safety and the Issue of Impunity in Kenya based on UNESCOs Journalists’ Safety Indicators. The one day meeting in Nairobi, Kenya aimed at reviewing and discussing issues captured in the draft study report on Journalists Safety in Kenya covering the period from August 2014 to July 2015 in Kenya.

Dr George Nyabuga, the lead researcher highlighted the salient elements of the report. The report is divided into categories of key indicators and provides an overview of the safety situation of journalists in Kenya. Participants were given an opportunity to provide their feedback on core elements and issues on the safety of journalists in Kenya, including the protection systems in place, the important actors or actions described in the report, and the greatest challenges that journalists face in Kenya. One such challenge that came up during the meeting relates to coordination. According to Mr Robert Wanjala, Programme Officer at Article 19, "The media has no coordinated mechanism to advocate and mitigate on issues related to safety of journalists in Kenya. It is therefore important for the Kenya Media Working Group to lobby and establish the necessary structures to help mitigate this issues."

The Journalists’ Safety Indicators further identify the context of safety and the responsibility of various actors and institutions in addressing the issue of journalists’ safety in the country. Ms Akademia Wandibba, National Officer at Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) highlighted the importance of the report to "capture regional instruments related to safety of journalists such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights for Africa." This she said, will help enhance accountability of various actors in the media sector and thus ensure that necessary measures are taken on issues related safety and security of journalist in Kenya.

Participants also had an opportunity to identify best practices to be supported, but also actions or institutions that are clearly lacking that can help improve safety of journalists in Kenya. One such gap identified, was for an established mechanism that would address issues of gender violence against women journalists in Kenya. 

Priority follow-up actions were also identified such as the need for a multi-sectorial approach to coordinate national activities on safety of journalists and the need for concerted efforts to increase awareness of the existing instruments on safety of journalist.

The workshop was attended by 17 representatives (11 men and 6 women) from African Media Initiative (AMI), Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), The University of Nairobi, Amnesty International, Article 19, Kenya Union of Journalist (KUJ), Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Association of Freelance Journalists, Association of Bloggers, Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA), and Twaweza Communications.

The UNESCO Journalists' Safety Indicators is developed within the context of the endorsement of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. It serves the purpose of pinpointing significant matters that show, or impact upon, the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. It also allows for mapping of key features that can help assess the extent to which journalists are able to carry out their work under safe conditions, and determine whether adequate follow-up is given to crimes committed against them.

This activity falls within the efforts of UNESCO to "promote an enabling environment for freedom of expression, press freedom and journalistic safety in Kenya" and is funded by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Programme on Development of Communication (IPDC). IPDC is multilateral forum in the UN system that not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries.