The Media Council of Kenya has condemned ejection of journalists from a Senate committee hearing.
In a statement on Wednesday, MCK chairman David Omwoyo said the treatment of journalists by National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji was unacceptable and representative of “a worrying trend where journalists in the course of duty are berred from crucial proceedings of legislative bodies both at national and county levels without justifiable reasons”.
Journalists were blocked from covering a Senate meeting where Interior CS Matiang’I, Police boss Henry Mutyambai and DCI George Kinoti were being grilled over the arrest of three senators on Monday.
The Media Council called on Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and the Clerk, Jeremiah Nyengenye to urgently ensure media freedom and access of crucial information in the Senate.
“Denying journalists access to proceedings of the Senate, without justifiable reasons as provided for by constitutional limitations, violates the principles of public participation, access to information and freedom of media,” Omwoyo said.
The ejection of reporters was despite them having passes and observing Covid-19 rules.
The journalists who were already in Parliament were ordered out by Haji.
“What are you doing here? I don’t remember inviting you here. Go back we will call you later,” Haji told the reporters.
Speaker Kenneth Lusaka ordered the panel to summon the top security bosses after they skipped an invitation on Monday to explain the arrest of the lawmakers.
The three senators arrested by the DCI on Monday are Steve Lelegwe (Samburu), Christopher Langat (Bomet) and Cleophas Malala (Kakamega).
Some senators criticised the ejection of the media.
Elegyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said he was shocked that the Senate Committee chased the media from a sitting inquiring the illegal arrest of senators.
“If the committee cannot stand up for colleagues, institution of the Senate and democracy, then something is really rotten in the state of Kenya.” Murkomen stated.
His Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jr said he disagreed with the decision to bar media from the meeting.
“The public has a right to know,” Mutula said.