Police officer who vandalised press vehicle, tear gassed journalists now under investigation
Wednesday, 5th April 2023
A police officer who was caught on camera vandalizing a vehicle ferrying journalists during the opposition protests last week before firing a teargas canister directly at the vehicle’s occupants is now under investigation, the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome revealed on Tuesday.
The actions of the plain-cloth policeman attached to the Kamukunji Police Station sparked sharp criticism from the media fraternity, human rights organizations, politicians and the public, all of whom called for his arrest and prosecution.
Koome said the officer, if found culpable, will face the law just like any other Kenyan involved in criminal activity.
“Some of us have relatives and close friends who are journalists. I cannot wake up one day with the intention to harm you,” said Koome.
Police have come under sharp criticism over how they handled the protests.
Media stakeholders have accused the police of targeting journalists in a bid to scare them away from the protests before possibly engaging in extrajudicial activities.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) said on Thursday it had recorded 25 cases of attacks against local and foreign journalists at the hands of state and non-state actors.
The body called for the apprehension of officers behind the attacks, and urged the ODPP to end impunity against journalists.
Human rights bodies have also amplified the calls for police accountability from the protests.
A number of such organizations have petitioned the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to investigate the police conduct at large.
Police are accused of shooting dead two people in the protests and also leading to the death of an infant.